Yuval Levin and
[L]egislators should be prepared to take smaller steps by both authorizing and appropriating emergency government actions as required. Rather than assume that the president has the power he needs to take any necessary action in a crisis, Congress should reinforce the centrality of legislation in our system by working closely with the president and other officials at the federal and state levels to get a clear sense of what ongoing federal action is needed and to step in and legislate as circumstances warrant. Asserting its role in this way would allow for greater clarity and legitimacy in the federal response, and would help prevent turning this crisis into another excuse for burgeoning executive powers.
Oversight is ultimately Congress’s responsibility, and it does not occur purely in the past tense. It cannot wait until the crisis fully passes. Ongoing oversight will help to keep the president accountable and to ensure that Congress’s will is done in real time. Moreover, the best kind of oversight plays not just a negative role but a positive one: It can aid the administration’s work during the crisis by raising questions that might go unasked within agencies or inside the White House, or by offering answers that might otherwise go unheard. Oversight hearings are essential in this crisis. If they do not require formal committee votes, they can already occur remotely — and with the rules changes suggested above, they could involve every facet of committee work.