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An overwhelming majority of Americans want Congress to pass more stimulus — now

Most Americans prioritize another stimulus check — not liability protections — in a new bill.

A volunteer prepares boxes of food assistance at the Share Your Christmas food distribution event sponsored by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Faith Neighborhood Center, and WESH 2 at Hope International Church on December 9, 2020, in Groveland, Florida.
Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto/Getty Images
Li Zhou is a politics reporter at Vox, where she covers Congress and elections. Previously, she was a tech policy reporter at Politico and an editorial fellow at the Atlantic.

While Congress is still struggling to come together on a stimulus package, support for getting one done has only grown: According to a new poll from Vox and Data for Progress, 81 percent of likely voters would like to see lawmakers approve another bill before the end of the year. That’s up from 67 percent of people calling on Congress to approve more stimulus before the election in an October Vox/DFP poll.

Right now, it’s unclear whether lawmakers will reach an agreement this month. Although Republicans and Democrats both support several key measures including funding for schools, vaccine distribution, and small-business aid, there are still major hold-ups regarding the inclusion of liability protections and state and local funds.

Meanwhile, Americans are continuing to navigate severe economic fallout from the pandemic. In the Vox/DFP poll, one in five respondents said they’ve applied for unemployment insurance since the pandemic began, about three in 10 have applied for SNAP food aid or gone to a food bank, and one in five have struggled with at least one rent or mortgage payment. This poll was fielded with 1,080 likely voters from December 4 to 6, and has a margin of error of 3 points.

Broader economic data reflects the dire need for relief as well. According to the latest numbers from the Labor Department, roughly 19 million people are currently receiving unemployment insurance. And an analysis from the Aspen Institute indicates that almost 40 million people could be at risk for eviction if lawmakers or federal agencies don’t take additional action in the coming weeks.

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have said they’d like to get a new stimulus bill approved before the end of the year. As both this poll and many other measures indicate, the stakes are too high for them not to follow through.

Many people want to see another stimulus check — and far fewer care about liability protections

The top stimulus provision that most likely voters are interested in seeing is another round of stimulus checks: 75 percent of poll respondents said this was what they’d want prioritized in another package.

Food aid, expanded unemployment insurance, money for coronavirus testing, and small-business support were other areas respondents highlighted. At least half of those polled signaled that these provisions were important to them.

Liability protections for businesses — something that’s been a top issue for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and an ongoing sticking point in negotiations — was not seen as vital, however. Just 23 percent of people listed it as a priority for them. State and local aid, which has been another point of contention, was also less popular, though it saw slightly more support, with 31 percent of respondents citing it as a priority.

Lawmakers are still at an impasse on what comes next: The White House has offered a $916 billion proposal that Democrats have rejected for its omission of funding for enhanced unemployment insurance, and Republican leaders have shied away from backing a $908 billion bipartisan Senate plan.

Who’s getting the blame?

The question of who exactly is to blame for the impasse is an interesting one.

The Vox/DFP poll finds that both parties are seen as responsible for the stimulus delays, though a slightly higher proportion of people view Democrats as being at fault. This might come as a surprise to Democrats, who have been pushing for more aid since the spring. Since March, House Democrats have passed two versions of the HEROES Act, which have not been considered at all in the upper chamber. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have tried to advance their own, narrower bills, which Democrats have opposed.

Pressure on both parties has increased in recent months, however, particularly as talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin fell apart this fall. Pelosi in October rejected a $1.8 trillion offer from Mnuchin over disagreements about the approach to several provisions including state and local support as well as unemployment insurance. McConnell at the time had signaled that he wasn’t interested in putting such a large package on the floor, either.

In the recent Vox/DFP survey, 31 percent of likely voters think Republicans are responsible for the lack of stimulus, while 38 percent think Democrats are. Thirty-two percent of people said they saw Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, as specifically responsible for the delays, while 43 percent said the same of House Democrats, led by Pelosi.

Congress is set to leave for the year in just over a week, but House lawmakers have emphasized that they could keep working after Christmas if they aren’t able to reach an agreement by then. “It’s a deal that must come together. We don’t have a choice now. It’s one of those things that has to be done,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) previously also said.