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For Rep. Cori Bush, The End Of The Eviction Moratorium Is Personal

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Democratic Representative Cori Bush of Missouri and a few protesters slept on the Capitol steps Friday night before the federal eviction moratorium expired. They wanted Congress to extend the CDC's moratorium, but lawmakers left for their August recess without doing that.

Representative Bush is on the line. Good morning.

CORI BUSH: Good morning.

INSKEEP: What made this a personal issue for you?

BUSH: Well, one is just I'm just a believer in humans helping to end human suffering. So that's just first. But then, also, I'm someone who has lived unhoused before, living out of a car with my two babies and my partner. And I know what I went through. I know what that minute-by-minute feeling is like and what happens to your mind and just how traumatic that that can be on you and your children, your family. And I don't want anyone else to have to go through what I went through, especially because we're talking about it's policy choice. It's unconscionable what's happening.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about that policy choice for a moment here. The CDC did impose this moratorium. It was never a matter of law. Last night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged President Biden to extend the eviction moratorium until mid-October. But the Supreme Court has weighed in here. As I understand it, they did not strike down the CDC's moratorium, but some justices voiced the opinion that the CDC shouldn't be extending it without Congress acting. Can the White House extend this ban on its own?

BUSH: We are saying - we are asking the White House to move with this. We are asking the White House to go ahead and set a new moratorium and let us get that action rolling while Congress reconvenes. Let's have Congress come back and reconvene. Let's get these votes. Just get the 218 votes. And while we're working on that, we will at least have the moratorium in place. If there is a challenge to the White House, you know, that will take a little bit of time. And that will give us time to be able to make sure that we don't have hundreds of thousands of people a day...

INSKEEP: So...

BUSH: ...Being evicted.

INSKEEP: ...I want to understand this. I think you're saying to the president, please, extend this ban...

BUSH: Please.

INSKEEP: ...And tell anybody who doesn't like it, sue me.

BUSH: Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying. That's exactly what I'm saying. We're in the middle of a global deadly pandemic as we speak that is surging, you know, in a lot of areas around the country. We cannot afford to have anywhere from 7 million to 11 million people now on the street. We didn't correct the housing crisis we already had.

INSKEEP: Chris Arnold's reporting has revealed, as we've been hearing on this program and in other places, that there are some localities that are going to go ahead with eviction moratoriums of their own. There is some help on the way. There is state and federal aid available. Do you think that - do you at least hope that for a lot of people, this is going to work out?

BUSH: Absolutely. I hope that we have to address this in every single way we can. So localities, please, please - localities can implement these moratoriums - states. We need everybody on board to make sure that everybody is taken care of because the other thing is this. Even with the other moratorium, making sure that people got the information that they - that there was a moratorium in place and how to receive those funds, like what to do, that was - that information wasn't pushed out hard enough. So if we're getting localities really involved, we can make sure more people know how to access the funds.

INSKEEP: Just got 10 seconds left - and what would you say to landlords who say, I need the rent?

BUSH: There is $40 billion out there that has already been allocated. That's what we're working on. So let us do the work to streamline that. But please, make sure that the people have a place to stay.

INSKEEP: Representative Cori Bush of Missouri, thanks so much.

BUSH: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF ILL CONSIDERED'S "UNWRITTEN RULES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.