Only 11 percent of Americans have "a great deal" or "quite a lot of confidence" in Congress, the lowest rating ever reached by any of the 16 major institutions ranked in public esteem by Gallup's Confidence in Institutions survey since 1973.

But the bad news for the Democratic Congress doesn't end there: "Underscoring Congress' image problem, half of Americans now say they have 'very little' or 'no' confidence in Congress, up from 38% in 2009 -- and the highest for any institution since Gallup first asked this question in 1973," Gallup said.

"Previous near-50% readings include 48% found for the presidency in 2008, and 49% for the criminal justice system in 1994."

The U.S. military remains the most respected public institution in the Gallup survey, followed by small business, local police, and churches. Tenth overall are newspapers.

The telephone survey of 1,024 adults was conducted July 8-11, just before Congress approved the 2,300 Obama-Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill.

And in related news, Vice President Joe Biden said he expects Democrats to do better than anybody expects in November's mid-term congressional elections.

Similarly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a fund raising letter this week that her party will keep control of the House: "Here is what will happen in November. Democrats will keep control of the House. Period."