The Democratic base was majorly pissed off at the ugly little game Biden and Pelosi played with the expiration of the eviction ban, waiting until Thursday (Biden) and Friday (Pelosi) to pretend they could do something about it by Saturday and then adjourning the House for an extended vacation. But, honestly, they don't care that much about a pissed off base since Democratic electoral strategy is alway and forever, "yes we suck but the Republicans are so much worse." But what did catch them attention was the furor of progressives led by Cori Bush over how it was handled-- and her no-nonsense demands that something be done immediately-- despite Blue Dog and New Dem opposition.
A little background and context from Andrew Perez and Joel Warner at Jacobin: Democrats Took Big Real Estate Money, Then Let the Eviction Ban Expire. Pelosi's House Majority PAC took a a million dollar bribes from the real estate industry to quietly let the eviction moratorium expire. So she did. It came from real estate tycoon, billionaire George Marcus, chairman of Marcus & Millichap and Essex Property Trust in June. Rental properties is the business. On top of the million to the House Majority PAC, he gave $263,400 to a joint fundraising committee benefiting Pelosi’s campaign, her leadership PAC, and the DCCC. Marcus is a top Biden fundraiser-- to the tune of $4 million last year, which explains exactly why Biden was so unconcerned about the expiration until Cori Bush (as well as Mondaire, Pramila and AOC and several others) exploded in the kind of fury that tanks agendas for real. As Perez and Warner wrote, "Allowing evictions to proceed will make the pandemic worse and will likely cause massive hardship on an unprecedented scale: Last year, researchers found that the expiration of state eviction bans had caused more than four hundred thousand new COVID cases between March and September. At least 3.6 million people are now facing the risk of eviction. That number could be far higher: According to the Aspen Institute, more than 15 million people are living in households that are behind on rent."
Marcus & Millichap "is the largest commercial real estate brokerage in North America and Essex Property Trust had an ownership interest in 60,272 apartment units in California and Washington state, according to company disclosures. Over the last two election cycles, Essex Property Trust donated $23.5 million to committees that opposed ballot initiatives that would have allowed rent-control measures in California."
Lobbyists for real estate interests have also been flooding Democrats with cash. The lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has bundled $227,550 worth of donations for the DSCC this year. Brownstein’s lobbying clients include Apollo Global Management and Ares Management, two private equity firms with substantial real estate interests.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and its lobbyists have bundled $336,500 for the DSCC this year. The firm lobbies for Koch Industries, the conglomerate led by conservative billionaire Charles Koch that has been investing in residential real estate, specifically single-family rental homes, during the pandemic.
Another Akin Gump client, the National Association of Realtors, lobbied to end the CDC’s eviction ban. The firm also lobbies for KKR, a private equity giant with significant investments in luxury apartments.
Heather Podesta, who has raised $177,000 for the DSCC and $114,000 for the DCCC, is the founder and CEO of Invariant LLC, which lobbies for the National Association of Realtors and NAREIT, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts.
Steve Elmendorf, a partner at Subject Matter, has raised $63,000 for the DCCC this year. His clients include Blackstone and the American Investment Council, a lobbying group for private equity firms. The National Realtors Association PAC has separately bundled $114,500 worth of donations for conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia this year.
Elmendorf, who is vehemently anti-progressive, is a notorious scumbag who gives lobbying a worse name than it already has. His corrupt firm includes an all-star team of Democratic revolving door lobbyists who have worked-- like Elmendorf himself (a former Dick Gephardt chief of staff)-- top staffers from Harry Reid's, Steny Hoyer's and Pelosi's offices. Everyone in DC knows that if you want something from Pelosi or Hoyer, you go to Elmendorf/Ryan.
This morning, the Punchbowl crew wrote about the backstory of how the White House completely reversed its position from "We can’t issue a new eviction moratorium" to "We’re going to issue a new eviction moratorium," acknowledging that "there is no doubt" that public pressure from Cori Bush-- who camped out on the Capitol steps for five days-- AOC and Mondaire Jones "was key to creating the political environment for Biden’s decision. With so much anger from the left, inaction wasn’t an option."
Feeling her majority shattering dangerously, Pelosi played a pivotal role in convincing the Biden administration "to issue a revised moratorium that lasts until Oct. 3, despite possible legal challenges from landlords... Over several days, Pelosi engaged in a frantic round of phone calls and lobbying, pressing President Joe Biden and senior White House officials to respond. Pelosi spoke directly with Biden three times over the weekend and into Tuesday, making a case that the White House found compelling. Pelosi was adamant the president needed to move unilaterally and insisted the Delta variant presented a new public health emergency. Pelosi argued the White House didn’t need to issue a national moratorium but should rather focus on halting evictions in areas where the CDC was recommending masking. That way, the two public health emergencies overlapped for the agency, according to people familiar with the arguments Pelosi made to Biden, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and Steve Ricchetti, a [very conservative] counselor to Biden."
"Nancy Pelosi's history of putting private profit before the public interest," wrote her 2022 electoral opponent Shahid Buttar, "is so long that it deserves a book. From insider trading to steering federal legislation to favor companies in which she has invested, from personally benefiting from limited Paycheck Protection Program funds to prioritizing tax cuts favoring the wealthy, and from land privatization deals to letting the federal eviction moratorium expire after receiving contributions from real estate developers, the only thing more well-established than her pattern of corruption is the absurd willingness of the press to ignore it."
During one conversation with Pelosi, Biden said his legal advisers were warning him that he couldn’t extend the moratorium due to a June 29 Supreme Court ruling. The high court had let the moratorium stand in a 5-4 decision, but Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the CDC had “exceeded its existing statutory authority” and Congress must act to extend the ban. Biden asked Pelosi if she had any legal experts with a different take. Pelosi provided Biden with several names, including Laurence Tribe, the well-known Harvard Law professor. Tribe also has a long friendship with Klain, himself a Harvard Law grad. Tribe encouraged White House officials to move ahead with the revised moratorium.
When Biden decided to make his announcement on Tuesday on the new moratorium, the first person he called was Pelosi, who’d just finished a caucus call with her members and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Shervin Aazami, who's running for Congress, in great part, on the housing crisis in California, noted this morning that "there was one member of Congress who refused to go on vacation while the homes of her constituents were at risk. She camped out on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and made her voice heard. Our campaign wants to extend our deepest gratitude to Congresswoman Cori Bush for her courage, leadership, and strength. A first-term Congresswoman just saved the homes of up to 15 million people. When we talk about actually advocating for working people, this is what we mean. It is no longer sufficient to just provide lip service when it comes to the needs of vulnerable and marginalized communities, we must demand that our Representatives take action and lead!" He continued by pointing out that his opponent, Brad Sherman has never been that kind of leader. "In the same way that he has co-sponsored Medicare For All and the Green New Deal, but never actually fought to get them passed or demanded a hearing on them, Rep. Sherman showed up at the last minute-- after the decision to extend the eviction moratorium had already been made. When it became politically expedient, he 'co-sponsored' the Sleep-In, but he certainly didn’t fight for it."
There's a difference between passive cosponsorship and actual advocacy. "Actual advocacy," wrote Aazami, "means putting in the hard work to raise awareness and bring needed change. Co-sponsorship means slapping your name on something and claiming you fought for it. Ever since Rep. Sherman became Chair of the Investor Protection Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over our federal housing laws, Wall Street private equity firms BlackRock and BlackStone began bankrolling his reelection campaigns with tens of thousands of dollars of corporate cash. Think about that… Two of the largest private equity firms in the country-- firms that have played a huge role in exacerbating our housing crisis-- finance the campaign of the congressman directly in charge of our federal housing laws. This is why we say that Brad Sherman is not fighting on behalf of working families. With the support of several housing advocates here in Los Angeles, our people-first campaign held a Sleep-In outside Rep. Sherman’s district office on Monday."
Shahid Buttar was as enthusiastic as Shervin Aazami at the aggressive nature of progressives' response to Pelosi's attempted slight of hand. "Cori Bush," he told me today, "has demonstrated such effectiveness in Congress because of her background in direct action. There's a profound difference between grassroots activist-organizers in Congress, and millionaires whose only experience is in fundraising. Our race in CA-12 presents precisely that choice, and I'm eager to get back to Washington to give Cori the back up that she needs not only in legislation, but also in the streets."
Please consider contributing to Shervin's and Shahid's campaign's by clicking on the 2022 Bluer California thermometer above.