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Biden and Harris gearing up to travel nationwide to promote American Rescue Plan

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The Biden administration is turning its focus to implementing the American Rescue Plan as millions wait for much needed aid. This comes as new CBS News polling shows more people are feeling optimistic about the pandemic as vaccine efforts ramp up across the country. CBS News senior national correspondent Mark Strassmann reports from Atlanta on the latest developments while CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto joins CBSN to explain new polling numbers.

Video Transcript

NIKKI BATTISTE: Hi, everyone. I'm Nikki Battiste. Thank you for joining us. The Biden Administration is taking the show on the road to highlight the benefits of the American Rescue Plan. The new law includes a new round of stimulus checks. Some people have already received payments. Millions more will get them in the coming days. There are also extended unemployment benefits, a child tax credit increase, and money for coronavirus vaccine efforts. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will visit at least six states this week to take credit for the nearly $2 trillion package.

CBS News Senior National Correspondent Mark Strassman is following the latest.

JOE BIDEN: For the first time in a long time this bill puts working people in this nation first.

MARK STRASSMAN: President Biden will spend this week selling his New Deal for COVID America. After a year defined by loss, the American Rescue Plan becomes Washington's nearly $2 trillion lifeline. Potentially transformative, how it expands the social safety net, two pandemic unemployment programs will extend into September, and add up to an extra $300 a week in benefits, multibillion dollar hikes in housing aid, food stamps, and Obamacare subsidies, $50 billion for small business relief, and $350 billion in aid to state and local governments.

Radioactive to many conservatives as a bailout for blue America. Despite broad public support, not one Republican in Congress voted for the package.

MITCH MCCONNELL: It was a multi-trillion dollar Trojan horse full of bad old liberal ideas.

MARK STRASSMAN: Financially, this stimulus bill will also be a booster shot to the middle class and the poor, a much more generous child tax credit, and for millions of people $1,400 in direct payments that start going out this weekend. Under the new temporary child tax credit, income eligible families will get up to $3,600 for each child under 6, and up to $3,000 for older children under 18. Partial benefits could roll out as soon as this July.

Roughly 280 million Americans will qualify for Washington's third round of stimulus checks, including Lyft driver Marquis Rhodes in Atlanta. Business is better. But last year his family barely dodged eviction. His family qualifies for $4,200 in aid. That will buy peace of mind.

- I'm not out of the woods. But it gives me a small cushion to say, OK, if something does happen, I at least have this to kind of fall back on.

MARK STRASSMAN: For millions of Americans, it's also help finding hope, another casualty of this pandemic. Mark Strassman, CBS News, Atlanta.

NIKKI BATTISTE: For more on all of this, let's bring in CBS News Director of Elections and Surveys, Anthony Salvanto. Anthony, CBS has some new polling out showing the majority of Americans support the American Rescue Plan, and people say they're feeling much more optimistic about the pandemic. What's driving the numbers?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Hi, Nikki. Good to talk to you. Let me take the second part of that first. And it's really this optimism about things getting better in the fight against the pandemic. And we'll see how that's really tied then to economic outlook. Look, first you've got 63% saying that in the coming months they think the outbreak is going to get better. Now what that means is that people then think that they can go out and do more of the things that they've been avoiding doing. They can start, they tell us, gathering with friends, traveling, going to restaurants and bars, even shopping. Well, OK.

So they start spending money. There's that pent-up demand out there. That boosts the economy. And then we find that people tell us, OK, they're optimistic about that economy. Specifically, Nikki, we're looking at more businesses reopening safely. They think that'll happen. The job market in their area, they're optimistic about that, the stock market, and the national economy more broadly. So that's how it's all connected. The coronavirus, if they-- if it comes to pass that it gets better, keeps getting better, then they feel optimistic that they'll go out there and boost the economy, Nikki.

NIKKI BATTISTE: It's good to see some optimism finally. Anthony, as we mentioned, President Biden is set to travel across the country this week where he'll try to promote and take credit for the American Rescue Plan to the public. How are people feeling about the President and how he's handling the pandemic?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: So the president gets very high approval ratings for handling the pandemic. He gets high approval ratings for the vaccine rollout specifically. And then the-- the package, that bill, well we've seen really high numbers in approval for that. Look at this, 74% approve of Congress passing that bill. And then you ask, why that is? And there's a couple of things that really strike us. One is that it's got at least some support from all segments of the partisan-- of the partisan splits. You've got overwhelming approval from Democrats. You've got high approval from independents. And even almost half of Republicans, even as you mentioned it did pass along just a party line vote, but you've got half of Republican supporting it. And when you look inside that, there's a couple of driving factors.

One is that people think that it's going to help them personally. It's that pocketbook issue that always matters in opinion ratings, and as well as the national economy. And then this I would add, that people think it's going to help working-class people even more ill than it will help the wealthy. And of course, all throughout the pandemic we've seen and people have told us that people who consider themselves our working class have been so much harder hit. So that's one of the drivers behind why the bill so far has been so popular, Nikki.

NIKKI BATTISTE: And Anthony, your new poll asks how Americans are feeling about getting the coronavirus vaccine. What can you tell us about that?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Well this circles back then to that other part of what's driving the optimism. And that is the vaccine rollout. So the first thing that we've been seeing is, as we track willingness to get it, we're seeing that steadily increase; so over recent weeks, last couple of months. So now we've got a majority who say if they haven't gotten it yet, then they're willing, that they will.

Now having said that, there's still some folks on the fence. There's still maybe, people who say maybe they'll get it. And then there's another 22% who say outright no. So you look at that, and you say, OK why not? And one of the things that we start seeing is that there's partisan breaks behind that. One of the things we're seeing is that Democrats are saying that they're going to get it. Some more-- more independents. But there's this resistance that's relatively higher among Republicans, and that's really important, because then you ask them what is the reason for that. And well they say, OK, it's still too untested. They believe they're worried about side effects, and then others say they don't trust the government. They don't trust the science. That's important, because as people say they're going to start venturing out, if they think the virus is going to-- the pandemic is going to abate somewhat, well, is that vaccination rate that everybody's going to watch to see if that really happens. So that's how it all then ties back in, Nikki.

NIKKI BATTISTE: Anthony, those Republican numbers are interesting, because some Americans do give the Trump Administration at least some credit for the vaccine. What does our polling show about this?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yeah, they do. Let me see if I pull up a slide for that. They do. At least-- 2/3 of Americans. I'll just tell you. 2/3 of Americans give the Trump Administration at least some credit for spurring the development of the vaccine. So that's part of it too. As we start to watch that Republican resistance, and I would add this too. Older Republicans have been more willing to get the vaccine. But it's younger Republicans who are not yet eligible, but soon will be when they expand that eligibility. They're the ones who are more reluctant so far. So that's going to be-- that's going to be a key item to watch there, Nikki.

NIKKI BATTISTE: Anthony Salvanto, as always, thank you.