Magazine April 20, 2020, Issue

The Crisis Congress

The United States Capitol (Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images)
What is the legislature’s job in a national emergency?

Recent weeks have seen the U.S. Congress rise to the challenge of a public-health crisis in some impressive ways. In an era when the institution barely moves, and major bipartisan legislation has been vanishingly rare, Congress responded swiftly by passing three significant measures to combat the coronavirus. All had broad support and seem likely to be useful and effective. 

The first bill, passed on March 4, bulked up the capacity for detection, containment, and treatment of the virus with about $8 billion in grants to existing agencies at the federal and state levels. Just a week later, a second bill provided

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Trump has every right to boast about his TV ratings, but he really ought to give the virus some of the credit.

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