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Majority Agree on Idea of a Presidential Public Health Emergency Fund

In a Washington Post Op-ed published on May 22, after the U.S. House and Senate passed differing funding bills to help fight Zika virus, former White House Ebola response coordinator, Ronald A. Klain, argued for the creation of a “public health emergency fund that the president can draw down in the face of a dangerous epidemic—without waiting for Congress to act.”   More than 6 in 10 Americans agree with such a proposal a survey from the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania has found.  However, agreement varies across party lines.

In the survey of U.S. adults, 63 percent of respondents agree strongly or somewhat with the statement: The president should be able to use a public health emergency fund to respond to an epidemic without having to wait for Congressional action.  There are partisan differences in agreement.  Most self-identified Democrats (82 percent) and Independents (63 percent) agreed with the idea, but only 39 percent of self-identified Republicans did.

The phone survey of 1,033 U.S. adults was conducted May 25-29 by the research firm SSRS. It has a margin of error of +/-3.6. It is one in a weekly series of Annenberg Science Knowledge (ASK) surveys conducted since February by the Annenberg Public Policy Center on public knowledge about the Zika virus, changes in public behavior because of Zika, and support for public policies on Zika.

For more on the questions and data, see the Appendix. To download this release, click here.

The policy center’s ASK surveys can be found here and its recent news releases on Zika include: