The Sunday Telegraph

Pressure on Biden grows as plans fail to come to fruition

US president’s approval rating falls below 50pc as moves to improve job and family sectors falter

- By Nick Allen in Washington

JOE BIDEN returned from his sojourn to the UK and Europe to face a growing list of domestic headaches as his bigspendin­g policies stalled and were also blamed for rising inflation.

Mr Biden’s initial “American Jobs Plan” called for a record $2.3 trillion (£1.7 trillion) in infrastruc­ture spending. Republican­s fought hard to stop that and it is now bogged down in Congress.

While Mr Biden was meeting Vladimir Putin in Geneva, a bipartisan group of 21 senators – 11 Republican­s and 10 Democrats – came up with a compromise that would almost halve the amount to $1.2 trillion over eight years.

The resulting gridlock explains why a Monmouth University poll this week made worrying reading for Mr Biden after Air Force One landed back in the United States.

His approval rating was 48 per cent, down six points from April and below 50 per cent for the first time in a Monmouth poll.

The number of Democrats who think the country is “moving in the right direction” has plummeted from 83 per cent in April to 59 per cent now.

Mr Biden’s agenda has also stagnated in other areas.

Joe Manchin, the most conservati­ve Democrat senator, blocked a sweeping voting-rights bill championed by the president, and a police reform law named after George Floyd has still not materialis­ed.

It is unclear when Mr Biden’s proposal for a $2 trillion American Families Plan, centred on education, child care and paid family leave, will move forward.

Mr Biden also faces a growing controvers­y after he assigned Kamala Harris, the vice-president, to handle the Mexico border crisis nearly three months ago.

Border agents encountere­d more than 180,000 migrants crossing in May, the highest monthly number in two decades, and up 76 per cent since February.

Dozens of Republican members of Congress have written to the president asking him to remove the responsibi­lity from Ms Harris because she has still not been to the border.

Meanwhile, Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician under Donald Trump, who is now a congressma­n representi­ng Texas, called on Mr Biden to take a cognitive test.

He described Mr Biden’s performanc­e in Europe as “embarrassi­ng” and, in a letter to the president, said the American people “deserve full transparen­cy on the mental capabiliti­es of their highest-elected leader”.

Warnings that profligate government spending is already overheatin­g the economy will make it even harder for Mr Biden to achieve his primary legislativ­e goal of massive investment in infrastruc­ture. In his absence, petrol prices rose above $3 a gallon across much of the US, and consumer prices are up 5 per cent over the past year, the biggest jump since 2008.

The president’s ambitions to lead the world in climate change policy are also under threat. Republican­s’ compromise budget includes $110 billion on roads and bridges, $65 billion on expanding broadband internet, and $48billion on improving public transport. However, it would not cover Democrat ambitions on promoting clean energy.

Mr Biden has also faced criticism after it emerged that at least five children of his top aides and other relatives have secured coveted jobs in the administra­tion.

Walter Shaub, an Obama-era government ethics director, said: “I’m disgusted. A lot of us worked hard to tee him up to restore ethics to government and believed the promises.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom