Biden administration expected to announce limited, targeted eviction moratorium likely to last until early October

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Courtesy: Michael Dwyer/AP

(CNN) — The Biden administration is expected to announce a new eviction moratorium for 60 days in areas of the country with high or substantial transmission of COVID-19 after letting a previous moratorium expire over the weekend.

An official familiar with the matter says the announcement will not be another nationwide eviction freeze but something more limited and targeted to places with high COVID spread.

A source familiar with the effort said the announcement would be a 60-day moratorium for counties with high or substantial transmission, covering 80% of US counties and 90% of the US population.

The argument the administration is making is the specificity of the public health metric makes it different from the previous extension.

"The CDC determined that the (Supreme Court) banned an extension of the existing moratorium, but what they will issue today is an entirely new one -- different in form and structure," a senior administration official said.

Officials repeatedly said over the course of the last several days that they do not believe they have the legal authority to implement a new version of the moratorium. But it is expected to be directed at areas where the spread of the virus is most acute. Officials are planning for the limited, targeted eviction moratorium to have an end date at the start of October, but the exact timeline is still being worked out now, according to an administration source.

The White House and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have continued to search for legal avenues to extend a now-expired nationwide ban on evictions as the issue drives a major wedge between President Joe Biden and members of his party. President Joe Biden spoke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday to discuss the eviction issue and detail his plan to extend the moratorium to certain areas of the country, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Administration lawyers had been unable to identify how Biden could use his administrative authority to continue the eviction freeze following a late-June decision by the Supreme Court.

White House officials and the CDC have been working for days to try and identify a pathway to address the implications of the July 31 expiration of the moratorium, as well as manage sharply negative political fallout driven by frustrated Democrats on Capitol Hill.

House Democratic leaders, who have called for Biden to find a way to extend the moratorium, are keenly aware they don't have the votes to pass anything legislatively. Prospects in the Senate are even worse.

That has put the entire onus on the administration in recent days, with increasing pressure driven by progressive Democrats.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday the administration is continuing to look for legal pathways to extend some version of a moratorium, noting that the administration was continuing to look at a "partial, limited short-term extension."

But Psaki also made clear the administration's lawyers had not identified clearly legal options to take, even as Biden has repeatedly asked to his teams to look for some over the course of the last several days.

That reality has raised questions about whether any new effort would survive a legal challenge, officials say. That likely includes the new actions the Biden is considering.

But under immense pressure from House Democrats, from Pelosi on down, to act, the administration has continued to press for options.

"We are still continuing to look at legal options. That process has not concluded," Psaki told reporters earlier Tuesday.

This story was first published on CNN.com, "Biden administration expected to announce limited, targeted eviction moratorium likely to last until early October."