Making sense of Congress, one year into the pandemic

Political Theater, Episode 191

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Massachusetts Reps. Jim McGovern and Katherine M. Clark celebrate at a bill enrollment ceremony on the West Front of the Capitol for the latest COVID-19 relief package.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Massachusetts Reps. Jim McGovern and Katherine M. Clark celebrate at a bill enrollment ceremony on the West Front of the Capitol for the latest COVID-19 relief package. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Jason Dick
Posted March 11, 2021 at 8:00am

You’ve likely heard the expression, or seen the meme, “What a year this week has been.” It’s a coping mechanism, employing gallows humor for the trauma of recent times, whether it’s the stress of the 2020 election cycle, protests for social justice, an attack on the Capitol or, most often and seemingly omnipresent, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Well, this year has finally been, literally, a year. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The lockdowns and quarantines seen first in China and Europe made their way across the globe. Professional athletics suspended their seasons. And the United States Congress began formulating a legislative response at the same time the institution tried to figure out how to operate safely amid the spread of a deadly disease.

Here at Political Theater, we quickly recalibrated how to produce our podcasts in a way that tried to make sense of this extraordinary and difficult time. For the people who make this journalism possible, they’ve had to balance how to do their jobs while keeping safe.

In today’s episode, I’m talking with two of my Political Theater co-hosts, Katherine Tully-McManus and Jim Saksa, about the changes we’ve seen in the last year in Congress and how it operates, what changes could be lasting and which ones will fade as we get vaccinated and it becomes safer to gather in public settings — and what are some of the lingering uncertainties we face, even as we see glimmers of hope.