"Let’s hope to heck that it works"

After that marathon of drama, leaders in both chambers expected a breather heading into the fall, the usual pre-election slowdown. Now, the House and the Senate are trying to stop the next Great Depression and save thousands of lives on the fly. The crisis has utterly consumed Congress, changing basically everything about the way the institution works and its priorities, according to interviews with more than a dozen senators and multiple aides in both parties.

“These are major, major policy levers that have just never been pulled before,” said Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) of the $2.2 trillion effort to aid unemployed workers, small business and corporations. “We’ll probably be studying this for some time. And let’s hope to heck that it works.”

The Coronavirus Congress is sure to go down in history as the most consequential legislature in a generation or more. But whether the House and Senate can stabilize the economy and fight the disease will shape more than just lawmakers’ legacies — it’s also likely to determine their fates in November and control of Capitol Hill.

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