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Most in Poll Want War Funding Cut
A central challenge for all policymakers is that those who want more congressional action are not unanimous in what they would like done. Almost all of those who would like congressional Democrats to do more to oppose the Iraq war disapprove of how the president has handled it, but about a quarter want U.S. troops to remain in Iraq until civil order is restored. More than a third see Bush's plan to withdraw the "surge" troops by next summer as about right or even too fast.
There is broader public agreement on how Congress should approach war funding. About a quarter of adults want Congress to fund fully the administration's $190 billion request; seven in 10 want the proposed allocation reduced, with 46 percent wanting it cut sharply or entirely. About seven in 10 independents want Congress to cut back funds allocated for the war effort, as do nearly nine in 10 Democrats; 46 percent of Republicans agree.
Democratic leaders are increasingly anxious about the perception that they are not accomplishing much on central issues. The House will vote tonight on a measure that would give the Bush administration 60 days to report to Congress on its planning for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, then require reports on withdrawal every 90 days.
Bush and the Republicans may also be headed for a political setback from the fight over the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), even if Congress does not override Bush's threatened veto.
More than seven in 10 in the poll support the planned $35 billion spending increase, and 25 percent are opposed. About half of all Americans "strongly" support the increased spending; 17 percent are firmly against the additional funds. Eighty-one percent of Democrats, 69 percent of independents and 61 percent of Republicans are in favor.
Democrats hold a big edge over Republicans on health-care issues. Overall, 56 percent said they trust Democrats to handle health care, and 26 percent side with the GOP.
Democrats also have a greater share of the public trust on other key issues, including Iraq (a 15-point advantage), the economy (18 points) and handling the federal budget deficit (23 points). On the campaign against terrorism, 41 percent put more faith in Democrats, 40 percent in Republicans.
But when Americans look more broadly at Congress as an institution, they are increasingly unhappy. Barely a third of liberal Democrats approve of the job Congress is doing; in April, 59 percent approved. Among independents, 24 percent approve, equaling last year's pre-election low mark for the GOP-controlled Congress.
Deteriorating reviews of congressional job performance are linked to a broad-based assessment that Congress has not accomplished much this year. Although Congress has passed four of the Democrats' "Six for '06" agenda items and a promised overhaul of congressional ethics and lobbying rules, more than eight in 10 Americans, including large majorities across party lines, said Congress has accomplished "not too much" or "nothing at all" this year.
By a 2 to 1 margin, those who see little accomplishment in Congress's first nine months blame the inaction on Bush and the GOP more than they do the majority Democrats. Fifty-one percent place primary fault with the president and congressional Republicans, and 25 percent on the Democrats. Among independents, 43 percent blame Republicans, 23 percent Democrats and nearly three in 10 blame both sides equally.
The poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday among a national random sample of 1,114 adults. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta and staff writer Jonathan Weisman contributed to this report.