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Have you ever asked, “WTF?,” about politics? Or, “who are these people making decisions about my life?” Political Theater pulls back the curtain on the stunts, antics and motivations that drive Washington. Host Jason Dick and the Roll Call team spotlight the spectacle, the players and what’s going on behind the curtain in Washington’s long-running drama: Congress.
 
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The Circus is back in town. At least Showtime’s political documentary series "The Circus" is back, resuming its sixth season this past Sunday. And the show has no shortage of topics to explore. Just in the coming weeks Congress is staring at a possible government shutdown, a debt limit breach, the fate of President Joe Biden’s agenda, fighting the …
 
Congress is deeply split, but not when it comes to the Olympics. Former U.S. women's national gymnastics’ team doctor Larry Nassar’s serial sexual abuse of female gymnasts provoked bipartisan action to toughen oversight of the Olympics organizing committee and amateur athletics. But there are still unanswered questions about Nassar and how this hap…
 
Filmmaker Greg Barker’s new documentary, “Detainee 001” comes at a turning point in U.S history and its timing could not be more ideal. The story of John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban” makes for a poignant narrative as the United States stands on the cusp of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and has ended its war in Afghanistan. Barker…
 
President Joe Biden this week declared that the longest war in U.S. history was over, and that after evacuating thousands of Americans and Afghan allies, there was no vital national security interest that justified staying in Afghanistan. But after 20 years, the withdrawal of troops and civilians this summer was messy, and deadly. CQ Roll Call Seni…
 
Health inequities between different racial and ethnic groups existed well before COVID-19, but the pandemic has revealed just how stark the disparities are. Throw in the politicization of science, and the United States has a big mountain to climb to conquer the virus. Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and former health commissioner of Baltimore…
 
A little known public-health directive, Title 42, allows border agents to swiftly “expel” migrants who cross the border —without considering their asylum claims. It was implemented in March 2020 as COVID-19 cases spread across the U.S. This expulsion policy was criticized by presidential candidate Joe Biden, but President Biden has embraced it. At …
 
Special elections to the House this year have offered more evidence that local and state contests have been nationalized, even down to the intra-party primary contests for safe seats. CQ Roll Call Politics Editor Herb Jackson and Inside Elections Reporter and Analyst Jacob Rubashkin join Political Theater to discuss what we can learn from special e…
 
The HBO documentary series “Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union,” arrives at a tumultuous time in American politics. It explores the formative years and presidency of Barack Obama, an era that seems both faraway and contemporary, with race relations continuing to define the public sphere. The three-part series premieres on HBO and HBO Max on …
 
This week, the White House celebrated the 31st anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, touted as a bipartisan success that has delivered for Americans, and hinted it could be used to help secure voting rights. CQ Roll Call Chief Correspondent Niels Lesniewski joins the Political Theater podcast to talk about the law, and …
 
Initially conceived as a temporary solution for vulnerable immigrants, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has become an intractable political battlefield as Congress continues to punt, year after year, a comprehensive overhaul of the country's immigration program. The latest chapter has underscored the fragility of even a government…
 
Midterm elections have patterns, but the political calculus we use sometimes needs a little adjusting. A delayed redistricting cycle, former President Donald Trump’s influence over key Senate and House races and changes to several states’ voter access laws make the 2022 campaign particularly hard to gauge. Nathan Gonzales, elections analyst for CQ …
 
Supreme Court justices like to portray themselves as legal actors, not political ones, but the high court has never been able to stay out of the public arena. That was certainly the case for the term that just ended, and it will certainly be the case for the term to come. CQ Roll Call senior writer Todd Ruger discusses the court’s recent decisions,…
 
Just before the Independence Day recess, the House is moving anew to remove statues of people in the Capitol who were part of the Confederacy or were otherwise white supremacists. Host Jason Dick and CQ Roll Call staff writer Chris Marquette discuss the long debate over such figures, why they are so divisive and what happens next to replace them. L…
 
This week, the House and Senate were both in session for the first time since before Memorial Day, and it feels like Spring Fever, with pandemic precautions mostly being cast aside. CQ Roll Call Staff Writer Jim Saksa has been there for the most moribund times of the pandemic, and now, a kind of Great Reopening. He gathered sound, wrote a couple of…
 
For a small state, West Virginia has outsize political influence. The Mountain State's two senators, Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Shelley Moore Capito, are in the middle of the biggest debates on the congressional and White House agenda. Andrea Billups, news director at West Virginia Public Broadcasting, explains why these two politicians ar…
 
The United States and Russia have a tense political relationship, which will be on display later this month when President Joe Biden has called Russian leader Vladimir Putin meet for a summit. But the two countries don't have to look to far in the past to see that when genuine relationships on both sides prevail, everyone wins. Director Dominic Coo…
 
This week marked the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officers, a year defined by a subsequent international reckoning on racial justice, a debate about overhauling police departments and an election that brought social and cultural issues violently into the foreground. Mary C. Curtis, host of the Equal Time…
 
Few political issues are as polarizing as abortion, and now abortion opponents are on the cusp of a potentially epic win after decades of incremental gains. History professor Jennifer L. Holland discusses the politics of abortion rights, which are in focus after the Supreme Court announced it will hear a challenge to a new Mississippi law that seve…
 
When we started this podcast in January 2018, we were not thinking about whether it would make it to 200 episodes. Then again, we didn’t think we get reprimanded by Werner Herzog, either. So, borrowing from the “How it Started, How it’s going” meme, here’s Episode 200! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices…
 
Heading into the 2022 midterm elections, history and redistricting favor House Republicans. But even with built-in advantages, there are some wild cards to consider, particularly former President Donald Trump’s effect and some internal party drama that threatens to spill into public view. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoic…
 
Mark McKinnon, long-time political adviser and current co-host of the Showtime political documentary series The Circus joins Political Theater to discuss President Joe Biden’s approach to the art of the possible, the president's move from transitional to transformational figure, the “Manch Cam” focus on West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III and how po…
 
Jaime Harrison gained national attention last year when he broke fundraising records running against South Carolina incumbent Senator Lindsey Graham. While Harrison didn't win the election, his candidacy gave notice that the Old South is now the New South. Curtis sits down with the DNC Chair and talks race, his grandfather's life lesson, and what 2…
 
It's no secret that in the corridors of power there is a struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party. While Joe Biden won the presidency, there certainly wasn't a blue wave. Moreover, House Democrats lost seats, and while they hold a slim-majority in the Senate, infighting in the party has presented challenges in President Biden's agenda. CQ Roll…
 
The United States is amid a period of self-reflection and contentious debate on race relations and President Joe Biden is leaning into it. Rashawn Ray, a scholar at the Brookings Institution and sociology professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, discusses Biden’s practical and personal approach to race relations, from executive orders…
 
Rep. Mike Johnson is emblematic of the Republican Party of which he is now, in his third House term, and a leading member. He joined fellow Republicans in January in backing the former president's campaign to overturn state election results. More than 60 percent of voters in his northwest Louisiana district voted for Trump and Johnson views Trump a…
 
Unified control of the White House and Congress does not happen all that often. We are in one of those periods now, with President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats in the majority in the House and Senate. And they are pursuing policy like they know they know their time is limited. Political Theater host Jason Dick discusses why unified control is…
 
This week marks the 11th anniversary of Barack Obama’s signing of the Affordable Care Act, something Joe Biden, then the vice president, now the president, famously described as a “Big F-ing Deal.” He was right. It is one of the signature moments in American health care policy, along with the passage of Medicare and Medicaid, the Children's Health …
 
Native Americans have long had a contentious relationship with the Interior Department. Now one of their own is at the helm of it, Deb Haaland, an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna. It was only in 2018 that the New Mexico Democrat made history as one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress. Now she is the first Native Ameri…
 
One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Political Theater takes stock of the changes in Congress and how it operates, which of those will be lasting, which are fleeting, and what are some of the lingering uncertainties of political life as lawmakers figure out how to keep responding to the pandemic and its challenges while keeping safe and trying to g…
 
Look no further than Congress to hear gripes about gridlock and the lack of bipartisanship. But based on whom the voters are sending to Washington, it’s not a big shock: Barely a statistically significant number of members of Congress represent House districts or Senate seats that voted for someone in the other political party for president. CQ Rol…
 
It’s been a busy few years for Rep. Madeleine Dean, the Pennsylvania Democrat elected to the House in 2018. The lawyer and professor was part of a historic wave of women elected who put the chamber back in Democratic control. She wrote a book with her son about his opioid addiction. She served as an impeachment manager for the second impeachment tr…
 
Despite the high drama and hard feelings associated with the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, it’s unclear it will have an effect on the political coin of the realm: The next election. Senior politics correspondent Bridget Bowman and Political Editor Herb Jackson discuss some of the remaining questions about whether their …
 
Showtime’s political documentary series “The Circus” wants to capture, in the words of co-host John Heilemann, the “big, giant chaotic, nightmarish stew” of our politics. At Political Theater, we’re pretty down with that. Heilemann and co-host Jennifer Palmieri join the podcast to discuss their approach to the Jan. 6 insurrection, the second impeac…
 
Amid a pandemic, an impeachment trial, an economic crisis and the fallout over the Jan. 6 armed attack on the Capitol, Congress is trying to figure out how much enhanced security, and in what form, is necessary to protect lawmakers, staff and eventually the public, who at some point will be let back onto the complex. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton…
 
Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris discusses his latest movie, "My Psychedelic Love Story," history as chaos, whether Donald Trump believes his own lies, the power of first person narrative and whether any of us can ever be reliable narrators. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices…
 
The presidency of Donald Trump is over. The presidency of Joe Biden has started. The inauguration happened -- against all odds, is how one staffer succintly put it. Despite a pandemic, an attack on the Capitol, unprecedented security and uncertainty, the show went on. Listen to the members of Congress, guests, volunteers, staffers and our own team …
 
Presidential inauguration historian Jim Bendat discusses the unprecedented preparations of Wednesday's inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, from the unnerving amount of security in the wake of the Jan. 6th attack on the Capitol to Donald Trump's decision to snub the ceremony, from the symbolism of some of the performers to the importance of…
 
As Washington gears up to host the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States next week, the country is on edge. After the insurrection on January 6 on the Capitol and lawmakers, security officials are leaving nothing to chance. The city is in lockdown. So on the last Friday of President Trump's term we ask what next? CQ Roll Call's Ji…
 
As the baseball and life philosopher Yogi Berra said: It’s like déjà vu all over again! Why? Because it’s January and we’re preparing for an impeachment trial. But who would preside over a second impeachment trial for Donald Trump — if he's not president anymore? It's not necessarily the chief justice of the United States. These are the kind of que…
 
These days, every day feels historic. But Jan. 13, 2021 is a big one: The House impeached President Donald Trump for a second time. That's the only time a president has been impeached twice. During a pandemic. That's new, too. With thousands of National Guardsmen stationed inside the Capitol, protecting lawmakers against a repeat of the violent att…
 
We are learning more about what law enforcement knew before the insurrection at the Capitol last week and it’s not a pretty picture. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the FBI wrote a stark report warning of violence but no one seemed to pay attention. And the Capitol Police, the lead law enforcement agency in charge of protecting lawmakers …
 
With less than 10 days before Joe Biden gets sworn in as president, Congress is reeling from the assault on the Capitol and what it will mean to govern. House Democrats introduced impeachment again on Monday, this time charging President Trump with "inciting violence against the government of the United States.” While Republicans blocked another me…
 
If anyone thought 2021 would come in like a lamb this week's events prove otherwise. Insurrection, treason, 25th amendment are all terms being tossed around in reaction to President Trump's rally cry to incite his followers to descend on the Capitol. What's next for Trump? The Dems and the GOP? Not to mention that President elect Joe Biden is less …
 
The shock of the violent overrunning of the U.S. Capitol this week featured a lot of people knuckling down, thinking on their feet and doing their jobs amid a dangerous and unpredictable situation. Katherine Tully-McManus recalls the strange and stirring moments in the Capitol as she evacuated with U.S. Senators, staffers and fellow journalists. Ni…
 
Wednesday's joint session of Congress will be a long, potentially tortuous affair to count the Electoral College votes that certify Joe Biden's win in the 2020 presidential election. Republicans plan on objecting to the proceedings and forcing what could become a days-long affair that usually takes under an hour. They don't have the votes to overtu…
 
The 117th Congress is under way, and it is already weird. A time usually filled with ceremony, celebration and at least a faint trace of optimism is clouded over by the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, the spectacle of members of Congress attempting to overturn the results of certified elections and the uncertainty of who will even be in charge …
 
While many of us might want to put 2020 in the rear view mirror, CQ Roll Call's three award winning photographers documented the year that was from impeachment (remember that?), the pandemic, Black Lives Matter and so much more. Jason Dick sits down with Bill Clark, Tom Williams and Caroline Brehman. They pick out their favorite photo and explain w…
 
We're looking at a dispute that is threatening the delicate coronavirus relief bill negotiations that are also tied to a Friday at midnight government funding deadline. The GOP wants to limit Federal Reserve lending programs that would tie the hands of a Biden administration. Also, we examine what energy and environment policy will look like as Pre…
 
Among the accomplishments of President Donald Trump is a crash-course in civics that showed the public that a lot of government business and transparency happens because of good will and cooperation, not statute. In the wake of Trump's busting so many norms about the presidency, there is discussion about what Congress can do to more clearly define …
 
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