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Poll Finds Majority of Americans Want Congress to Return to Washington Immediately

April 23, 2020 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – As the House prepares to vote on a $483 billion coronavirus aid package, a majority of Americans say they’d like Congress to return to Washington immediately to try to deal with the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, a new poll finds.

Though Congress has passed three economic bills since the pandemic took hold in the U.S. in mid-March, almost all of this activity has occurred with neither the House or the Senate being in formal session.

A new CBS News poll, released Thursday morning, finds that 61% of Americans would like Congress to return to Washington, in session, to deal with the crisis on an ongoing basis while 39% say lawmakers should continue to work just as they are.

The poll also found that while the public overwhelmingly approves of Congress passing legislation to provide funds to small businesses impacted by the outbreak — the yeas stand at 88% — overall, only 41% of respondents said Congress is doing a good job responding to the crisis.

In both cases, the poll found Democrats, Republicans and Independents in agreement on these points.

The congressional approval number is markedly lower than the 48% who believe President Donald Trump is doing a good job handling the outbreak.

Health Still Primary Concern

The poll also found the health concerns still take precedence over economic concerns for most Americans.

A firm 63% believe the economy is opening back up too quickly, prompting fears the outbreak will get worse.

Meanwhile, 37% of poll respondents said the economy is opening back up too slowly, causing the economy to unnecessarily get worse.

Many Americans also said they need to be confident the outbreak is over before returning to public places, and big majorities of all parties agree the stay-at-home orders are effective.

Only 13% said they would definitely return to public places over the next few weeks if restrictions were lifted right now, regardless of what else happened with the outbreak.

Almost half — 48% — said they would not return to public places until they were confident the outbreak was over. Another 39% said they’d return depending on whether they saw the outbreak getting better. 

On a more defined level, 13% of respondents said they would be comfortable going to a large sports or entertainment event, while 15% said they would be comfortable getting on a plane right now.

That said, 29% indicated they’d be comfortable going to a bar or restaurant.

Getting Back to The Office

Fewer than half of respondents — 44% — said they would be comfortable going to a workplace outside their home, though a majority of those currently employed — 57% — said they are ready to head back to the office.

Asked to prioritize between the health of the nation and the economy of the nation, health prevailed by a two-to-one margin.

Just over 70% of respondents said keeping people home and social distancing should continue to be the nation’s top priority — even if it means the economy is hurt in the short term.

Just 30% thought people should be sent back to work even if that means increased health risks. 

This CBS News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 2,112 U.S. residents interviewed between April 20-22, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 presidential vote and registration status. The margin of error is +/- 2.5 points.

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