For the second time in the pandemic era, Congress is experiencing a burst of relative popularity, the normally reviled institution winning public support in the early days of a Democratic-run Washington.

Most of the surge comes from Democratic voters who are happy to see their party controlling both the House and Senate, along with the White House, for the first time since 2010, but a chunk of independents appear to be happy with the late December bipartisan passage of the $900 billion relief legislation that included $600 checks for most workers. Those independents remained content with Congress after the new $1.9 trillion legislation that President Biden signed into law March 11.

But Democrats are now turning to the more difficult part of their agenda,proposing higher taxes to pay for a massive infrastructure package. They remain in a stalemate over how to address immigration laws, gun control and raising the minimum wage. Failure to pass these key liberal agenda items would deflate Democratic voters, but approving them in a hyperpartisan fashion could again alienate independents….

Experts say this new wave of Congressional support is likely the result of voters enjoying getting direct cash payments from Washington.

“First, it helps that Congress is giving out money,” Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said….

“Second, you don’t have a president who is constantly stoking anger with the place and the people in it,” she said.

Not everyone is seeing Congress in a new light. Republican voters do not like what they are seeing occur under the Capitol dome, with just 9 percent approving of Congressional actions in this month’s Gallup survey. GOP support for Congress was twice as high in early to mid January, but once Biden got sworn in Jan. 20 and Democrats claimed the Senate majority that same day, GOP voters turned sharply against Congress.

But 59 percent of Democratic voters approve of the Congressional job performance, a sixfold increase from mid-December, along with 34 percent of independents — more than doubling their approval of Congress from three months earlier….


image…Jabin Botsford/WashPost