with Tobi Raji

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The people

OUT OF TIME: Daniel Moreno, a 30-year-old man living with his wife and son in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is among the millions of Americans currently behind on rent and more worried than ever about being evicted since the federal moratorium on evictions expired this past weekend. 

New Mexico is one of a handful of states that still has a moratorium in place after the state supreme court enacted a freeze on eviction proceedings last year. However, Moreno, who is waiting to hear if he qualifies for rental assistance he recently applied for last month, fears that the expiration of the federal ban might still embolden landlords to file for eviction – even in a state with local laws in place preventing that. 

  • “The existence of the federal moratorium impacted the number of filings occurring in New Mexico even though we had our own moratorium in place,” Cathy Garcia, an organizer for the Chainbreaker Collective in Santa Fe, told Power Up. “So it was having a chilling effect – [landlords] would decide to file for eviction depending on whether a federal moratorium existed.”

Case in point: Princeton University's Eviction Lab tracks landlords who have filed for evictions in 6 states and 31 cities; as of last week, they've tracked 451,772 evictions filed during the pandemic. Moody's data shows also that over 6 million renters are behind on their payments, but it's still unclear how many may face eviction. And while Congress has appropriated $36 billion toward emergency rental aid, only a small percentage of that money has actually been disbursed and spent. 

  • “Six months after the aid program was approved by former president Donald Trump in December, just 12 percent of the first $25 billion in funds had reached people in need due to loss of income from the pandemic, according to the Treasury Department. More than three months after President Biden signed a March relief package with another $21.5 billion for the program, even less of that has been spent, a Post investigation found,” The Post's Rachel Siegel reports. 

And while the White House and Congress both agree that action must be taken to prevent an eviction crisis, they continued to pass the blame for failing to extend the moratorium on Monday. 

Congress failed to pass a last-minute extension of the federal eviction moratorium last week before heading into summer recess. Meanwhile, the White House on Monday called on states to speed up the distribution of rental assistance to applications and dismissed criticism from Congress for kicking responsibility to them last Thursday without warning.  

  • “As the Administration made clear last week, there is no excuse for any State or locality not to promptly deploy the resources that Congress appropriated to meet the critical need of so many Americans,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “This assistance provides the funding to pay landlords current and back rent so tenants can remain in their homes or apartments, not be evicted.”
  • “We expect these numbers to grow, but it will not be enough to meet the need, unless every state and locality accelerates funds to tenants,” Gene Sperling, who is overseeing pandemic relief efforts for Biden, told reporters during a briefing on Monday.
  • Sperling, who added that Biden is using “whatever federal authority” he has to stop evictions, said that the CDC had been unable to find legal authority for a “new targeted” moratorium. He added that the administration believed that the Supreme Court ruling on the CDC's eviction freeze released in June made clear that congressional action was necessary.

Context: “In voting with the court’s liberals to allow the moratorium to remain in place through July, Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh said that extending the moratorium further would require congressional approval,” our colleague Jeff Stein reported last week. “Biden administration attorneys expressed concern that if the White House defied Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court could move to restrict other emergency public health rules instituted by the federal government, the people said. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal dynamics.” 

  • Counter: “The ruling the Supreme Court gave was based on arguments filed in early June, when delta made up about 10 percent of cases. Now, delta is about 90 percent of cases and everything is surging,” said Paul Williams, a housing expert and fellow at the nonprofit Jain Family Institute, told Jeff.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), joined by other House progressives, lead a protest of the expiration of the moratorium by sleeping on the steps of the Capitol and continued to pressure the White House to issue an immediate extension on Monday.

  • “As someone who was evicted three times in her life before coming to Congress, Bush has made it a personal mission to draw attention to the issue. Liberal colleagues have rallied around her push,” our colleagues Sean Sullivan, Marianna Sotomayor and Tyler Pager report. “In a hastily called, expletive-laden videoconference call of the caucus’s executive board Sunday that included nearly two dozen lawmakers, members railed against the White House and House Democratic leaders over the eviction strategy, according to several Democrats with knowledge of the discussion."
  • “It’s too little too late,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told our colleague Marianna Sotomayor. “The White House did not handle this well. I think they did not think about this eviction moratorium in a serious way.”
  • “Since the president’s term [started], I haven’t seen this much frustration — anger — in the progressive caucus,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said Monday. The White House decision, Khanna added, “makes absolutely no sense from a public health perspective,” he said.

Not just the pandemic: Moreno told Power Up that while getting back to pre-pandemic levels of income to cover his family's expenses has been particularly challenging, the stress of avoiding eviction is not new for him and his family. Advocates believe that pandemic-era solutions might be worth permanent extending in order to avoid a potentially historic eviction crisis. 

  • “I'm very interested in not just keeping the moratorium in place but further entrenched into the law,” Moreno told Power Up through a translator. “That those protections that the moratorium has made part of an administrative process be made permanent – people experience these types of emergencies all the time. So how can tenants always receive this kind of eviction support during emergencies in order to alleviate the eviction crisis?” 

“The pandemic has brought a lot to the surface in terms of the challenge of the rental housing situation — how bad our housing crisis already was,” Anne Kat Alexander, a researcher and project manager at the Eviction Lab, told us. “That's become a lot better known to a lot of people but it's also prompted solutions.”

  • Alexander pointed to Philadelphia's Eviction Diversion program, for example, created by the Philadelphia City Council at the beginning of the pandemic which forces landlords in the city seeking to evict tenants who aren't paying rent by having to participate in a diversion program that requires them “to attend mediation with their tenants, apply for rental assistance to help them recoup lost funds and then wait 45 days before filing complaints for eviction in court," per the PhillyVoice's Brooks Holton. 

The policies

LAWMAKERS CLASH OVER HOW TO FINANCE INFRASTRUCTURE DEAL: “Two leading Republican senators are at odds over a proposal to step up tax-reporting requirements on cryptocurrency transactions, a measure designed to help pay for the $1 trillion infrastructure proposal moving through Congress,” our Post colleague Jeff Stein reports.

  • “Searching for new funds to pay for their infrastructure package, the White House and moderate Senate Republicans led by Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) agreed to increase requirements for what brokerages have to report to the Internal Revenue Service. The measure emerged as a late potential compromise after months of disagreements over how to pay for the package.”
  • “The new provision is aimed at improving voluntary compliance and helping the IRS track evasion of large cryptocurrency sales, which often go unreported.”
  • “But industry groups and some lawmakers, including Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), are warning that the language as drafted is too broad and could give the Biden administration the opportunity to crack down on not just cryptocurrency brokers but also bitcoin ‘miners’ who are crucial for validating transactions on the decentralized network.”

“The late haggling over the cryptocurrency provisions comes on top of months in which the White House and a bipartisan group of senators have struggled to figure out how to pay for the infrastructure package.”

  • “Targeting cryptocurrencies — which have relatively little political clout in Washington — emerged last week as a possible compromise after Republicans ruled out taxing the rich and more aggressive IRS pursuit of tax cheats.”
  • But “if the plan is weakened by industry pushback, the deficit impact of the package overall would increase, possibly imperiling its already tenuous support among many Republicans.”

The campaign

HAPPENING TODAY: “Two primary contests for open House seats in Ohio will act as a stress test for both Democrats and Republicans, offering early hints about whether party leaders are aligned with their voters ahead of the midterm elections next year,” the New York Times’ Jeremy W. Peters reports

  • The centrist vs. the progressive. “In the Cleveland area, two Democrats are locked in an increasingly embittered and expensive clash that has become a flash point in the larger struggle between the party’s activist left flank and its leadership in Washington.”
  • “The early favorite to win, Nina Turner, is now trying to hold back Shontel Brown, the preferred candidate of more establishment-friendly politicians and allied outside groups.”
  • “Turner, a former state senator who built a national following as a surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaigns, has been buoyed by support from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and other leaders in the progressive movement.
  • “But Brown, a local Democratic Party official, has benefited from the help of Hillary Clinton, Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina and others in party leadership roles.”

Trump vs. everyone else. “In the other race, near Columbus, a dense field of Republicans is vying to upset the preferred candidate of former president Donald Trump, an energy lobbyist named Mike Carey who was largely unknown until Trump endorsed him in early June and all but ensured that he would be the front-runner.”

  • “But the crowded competition — more than 10 candidates are running for the Republican nomination in the solidly right-leaning district — means that the race is fluid, especially considering that special elections typically draw low turnout.”
  • “If Trump’s candidate does not prevail, a loss would be seen as another sign that his blessing is not the political golden ticket that he and his allies insist it is.”

Forgetting Donald Trump: “The latest test of Trump’s clout comes as polls show that his standing among Republicans has softened slightly since last year,” our colleagues Josh Dawsey and David Weigel report.

  • “While much of the GOP continues to echo the former president’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, there are signs of the limit of his reach on other issues. Last week, after Trump railed against a Senate infrastructure package and threatened to primary Republicans that support it, the bill moved forward with the support of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.”
  • But “there are plenty of signs that Trump still has strong sway over the Republican Party. GOP candidates fear he will endorse their rivals, even hiring his advisers to keep it from happening. Republican lawmakers regularly trek to Trump’s private clubs to pay him homage.”

The investigations

GOP LAWMAKER QUESTIONS FBI’S ROLE IN JAN. 6: “A Republican senator suggested in a private conversation Saturday, without evidence, that the FBI knew more about the planning before the Jan. 6 Capitol riot than it has revealed so far, according to a video obtained by The Washington Post,” our colleague Mike DeBonis reports

  • “The comments from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), made after a political event at a Wauwatosa, Wis., hotel, reflect the spread of an unfounded claim that has traveled from far-right commentators to Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show to the highest levels of the GOP.”
  • “I don’t say this publicly, but are you watching what’s happening in Michigan?” Johnson said while discussing the Capitol attack with some of the event’s attendees. “ … So you think the FBI had fully infiltrated the militias in Michigan, but they don’t know squat about what was happening on January 6th or what was happening with these groups? I’d say there is way more to the story.”
  • “Johnson’s Michigan comment appears to be a reference to the alleged kidnapping plot targeting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) that was disclosed by state and federal authorities in October.”
Video taken after a political event at a hotel in Wauwatosa, Wis., on July 31 shows Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) talking about the attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Courtesy of Bridget Kurt)

“No credible evidence has emerged that the FBI had detailed foreknowledge of a violent assault on the Capitol or that its agents or operatives played a role in fomenting it. No specific claim of FBI involvement has surfaced in court filings made in the hundreds of cases filed against alleged Capitol assailants.”

  • “But the allegations have persisted in recent weeks as Republican supporters of Trump … have consistently sought to finger other culprits for the breach of the Capitol.”

Meanwhile, “Trump’s legal team signaled Monday that it will not immediately try to block testimony from former Justice Department officials who have been called before Congress, potentially clearing a roadblock from multiple investigations touching on the former president’s tenure,” Politico’s Betsy Woodruff Swan and Nicholas Wu report.

  • “In a letter to one of six Trump-era DOJ officials whose cooperation is being sought in congressional oversight efforts, former Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.), a member of Trump’s legal team, suggested that it would not try to block testimony by those six.”
  • “The letter’s unusual verbiage makes Trump’s position slightly opaque, but Collins also indicated that the former president’s team would try to contest all attempts to secure testimony from ex-DOJ officials if Congress sought cooperation from more than those six.”

TRAGIC NEWS: D.C. police officers Gunther Hashida and Kyle DeFreytag, “who [each] responded to the U.S. Capitol insurrection, have died by suicide,” CNN’s Whitney Wild, Paul LeBlanc and Rashard Rose report.

  • “The deaths mark four known suicides by officers who responded to the Capitol during the attack, and three known suicides by a D.C. officer specifically.”
  • After news of Hashida's death, WUSA's Mike Valerio first reported that Freytag was found deceased in mid-July, per Metropolitan Police.

Viral

HISTORY MADE: “The 24-year-old, who withdrew from the women's team final and other individual events to focus on her mental health upon experiencing the 'twisties', earned a bronze medal on the balance beam with a strong performance and a score of 14.000,” per ESPN

  • Biles also earned a bronze medal in beam at the 2016 Rio Games. With the newest addition to her hardware collection, she ties Shannon Miller as the most decorated Olympian in American gymnastics history. While each gymnast has seven medals to her name, Biles has more golds (4) than Miller (2).”