Associate Professor of Government Logan Dancey’s research and teaching interests include the United States Congress, campaigns and elections, and public opinion. We spoke to him about the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
As a scholar of legislative decision-making, can you describe how the workings of the United States Congress look different during a time of crisis?
It’s still early, but the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic shows that even this gridlocked and polarized Congress—which doesn’t seem to accomplish much in normal times—is still fairly quick to respond to crises. We’ve seen large bipartisan majorities agree on fairly large-scale responses to the pandemic. I think that’s to be expected given the magnitude of the problem, as well as the incentives that members of Congress have to try to solve problems as they arise. When crises like this are forced onto Congress’s agenda and they have no choice but to act, it can break down those partisan and ideological divisions that seem so strong during normal times, though the legislative outcomes may not be perfect or satisfy everyone.