Most Americans in new poll say Congress shouldn't use government shutdown to bargain

TOP Dome 102323 AP Mariam Zuhaib

Most Americans don’t want Congress threatening to shut down the government in order to further their goals, according to a new Marist poll, published Wednesday.

After the House passed its bill to avert a government shutdown, the ball in now in the Senate’s court. It appears likely that the government will not run out of funds this week and remain open until an extended deadline in mid-January.

Three-quarters of Americans — 75 percent — came out against shutdown brinksmanship in the poll, a strategy that led to the federal budget’s first extension at the end of September, avoiding a funding lapse by just hours. Roughly 23 percent believe using a shutdown as a wager is “acceptable.”

When broken down by party, Republicans were more than twice as likely — 37 percent to Democrats’ 18 percent — to say a shutdown could be used to bargain.

If Senate negotiations break down and the government does shut down despite attempts at a deal, nearly half of Americans said they would blame Republicans. About 49 percent of Americans would place blame with the GOP, while 43 percent would instead blame President Biden or Democrats more broadly.

Congress is divided over funding for President Biden’s foreign policy priorities, which includes funds to aid Israel and Ukraine in their respective wars. Over 60 percent of respondents said the U.S. should be allocating more money to those conflicts, with 35 percent saying both.

Despite low faith in Congress, a strong majority still believe that government can work, if used effectively. About 69 percent of poll respondents said the U.S. political system can work fine and that it’s really members of Congress themselves that are the problem.

“Americans are not ready to throw in the towel on the government’s ability to get things done,” Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, said. “They think the fault lies with the nation’s elected officials in Congress.”

The poll surveyed about 1,400 Americans over the course of a few days in early November. The margin of error is 3.4 percentage points.

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