Governing in a hurry: The fleeting nature of unified control

Political Theater, Episode 194

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer,  House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and others look on as President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses depart the Capitol on Inauguration Day. The inauguration marked the first day of unified control of government under Democrats since 2011.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and others look on as President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses depart the Capitol on Inauguration Day. The inauguration marked the first day of unified control of government under Democrats since 2011. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Jason Dick
Posted March 31, 2021 at 3:28pm

“You're on a roll, kid. Enjoy it while it lasts. Because it never does.” That’s from Oliver Stone’s movie “Wall Street,” uttered by a wise old broker played by Hal Holbrook to hotshot Charlie Sheen in the middle of a string of market gains. The same aphorism applies to politics.

Unified control of the White House and Congress does not happen all that often. We are in one of those periods now, with Joe Biden as president and his fellow Democrats holding the majority in the House and Senate. And they’re pursuing policy like they know their time is limited: enacting a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief measure in early March and releasing plans for a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure plan this week.

In this episode of Political Theater, host Jason Dick talks to Molly E. Reynolds of The Brookings Institution about why unified control of government is so rare. And then, CQ Roll Call politics editor Herb Jackson joins Jason to discuss the political consequences of unified control.