Cori Bush Slept On The Capitol Steps Last Night To Keep People In Their Homes
The eviction moratorium expires tonight at midnight.
Yesterday, House Democrats tried to extend the moratorium by unanimous consent, but not a single Republican would vote for it. The House is now set to go on a six-week recess, meaning that there will be no recourse for over a month.
Cori Bush, however, is not giving up just yet. The Missouri congresswoman literally slept on the Capitol steps last night to protest the fact that the eviction moratorium was not extended, meaning that millions of people are going to find themselves at risk of being kicked out of their homes — at a time when the Delta variant is on an upswing and everything else is up in the air. Her goal? To get an actual vote on the moratorium by midnight tonight.
While surely Bush, like anyone, would enjoy a lovely vacation, this issue is both important and personal to her. She has actually been evicted. She has actually lived out of her car. She knows what it's like and she doesn't want anyone else to have to go through that. This is actually why it's important to have people of all backgrounds in Congress. Empathy and sympathy are important, wonderful things to have, but a lot of wisdom and understanding comes from experience.
In a letter to her colleagues, Bush wrote:
As elected representatives, we have a solemn obligation to protect the health and safety of our constituents, using every tool at our disposal. We cannot in good conscience leave for August recess until the federal eviction moratorium has been extended. We must do everything possible to protect the nearly 6.2 million households at risk of eviction.
I'm urging you to please hear me out on this issue because as a formerly unhoused Congresswoman, I have been evicted three times myself. I know what it's like to be forced to live in my car with my two children. Now that I am a member of Congress, I refuse to stand by while millions of people are vulnerable to experiencing that same trauma that I did.
I remember what it was like for us to live out of my car. I think about how society wanted me to believe that being unhoused was my fault. We have a deeply rooted misconception in our country that unhoused people have done something to deserve their conditions ─ when the reality is that unhoused people are living the consequences of our government's failure to secure the basic necessities people need to survive. In the wealthiest country in the world—no one deserves to be unhoused.
I commend Chairwoman Waters for her strong leadership on this issue, and fully support H.R. 4791, the Protecting Renters from Evictions Act of 2021, which would extend the CDC eviction moratorium through December 31, 2021. In the interest of saving as many lives as possible right now, I am also prepared to support legislation that keeps this protection in place through October. I urge all of my Democratic colleagues in the House to support this effort too.
After tweeting about her plans, Bush was joined in her protest by supporters and several Democratic colleagues, including Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Elizabeth Warren. I don't think Warren stayed the night, but she's in her 70s so I think it's just fine that she is supporting this in other ways, as is Maxine Waters who has been the one leading the charge since the beginning, and who we also probably don't need sleeping on any stairs. We must protect her at all costs.
It’s 1 AM. Our solidarity is strong and our numbers are growing. Millions are at risk of being removed from their… https://t.co/9GqFQU3vGf— Cori Bush (@Cori Bush)1627708489.0
We’ve been outside of the Capitol since last night demanding that our Democratic-controlled government take action… https://t.co/F41t18IuS4— Cori Bush (@Cori Bush)1627751777.0
As you may know, the eviction moratorium expires today, but we have until midnight to extend it. Bush told CNN that there is still time and it can still be done, and says that other Democratic colleagues have said they are coming to join her as well. That would be really great to see.
We kick 6 million people out of their homes, it's going to be harder for them to find a job that pays them enough to live anywhere or continue going to their regular job. It's going to be difficult for them rent another apartment or home because if you don't have a job and you don't have a good reference from your previous landlord, no one is going to let you move in. Extending the moratorium isn't just about helping people and being kind, it's that ending it will be chaos. It's a hell of a lot easier to fix a tiny hole in your stocking than it is to fix a run.
There are 17 million empty homes in the United States and half the country can't afford to live anywhere because the rent is too damn high and the wages are too damn low. Something's gotta give. And it's good to see that so many of our elected representatives are really, really fucking trying with this one.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse