UPDATE 1-U.S. House Democrats seek eviction moratorium extension through Oct. 18

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WASHINGTON, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives on Sunday called on the Biden administration to immediately extend a moratorium on housing evictions through Oct. 18.

The moratorium, related to the coronavirus pandemic, expired at midnight on Saturday. The request was made through a statement by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top leaders.

"House leadership is calling on the administration to immediately extend the moratorium," the Democratic leaders said.

President Joe Biden on Thursday asked Congress to extend the deadline, citing the COVID-19 Delta variant that is taking hold in the United States.

But Congress, possibly lacking the votes to approve such an extension, failed to act after a Republican lawmaker blocked a move in the House to immediately bring up a bill under the unanimous consent of the chamber.

It was unclear whether the administration has the authority to extend the moratorium using its executive powers and without Congress acting.

More than 15 million people in 6.5 million households are currently behind on their rental payments.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Edmund Klamann)

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