Joe Biden returned from his sojourn to the UK and Europe to face a growing list of domestic headaches as his big-spending policies stalled and were also blamed for rising inflation.
Mr Biden’s initial “American Jobs Plan” called for a record $2.3 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 US.
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 Vice President Kamala Harris to handle the Mexico border crisis nearly three months ago.
Border agents encountered over 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.
“Even you must be discouraged with her inaction,” they wrote to Mr Biden.
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 zoomed above $3 a gallon across much of the United States, and consumer prices are up five per cent over the last year, the biggest jump since 2008.
“[Americans] have seen the higher prices on gas in particular, but also groceries, and the cost to keep their businesses running,” said Jim Banks, a Republican congressman from Indiana. “Inflation is Democrats’ hidden tax on the middle class.”
As Republicans and Democrats wrangle over Mr Biden’s spending plans, 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 $48 billion on improving public transport. However, it would not cover Democrat ambitions on promoting clean energy.
With the support of all 50 Democrats and the 11 Republicans, who include Mitt Romney, the compromise would reach the 60-vote threshold to pass in the Senate.
Democrats could use a budget process to pass their own infrastructure bill with a simple majority.
The Senate is split 50-50 and Mrs Harris has a casting vote.
However, West Virginia’s Mr Manchin will not commit to a plan that has zero Republican support.
The approval rating for Congress, where Democrats control both chambers, has fallen from 35 per cent in April to just 21 per cent now.
Mr Biden has also faced fierce criticism after it emerged at least five children of the president’s top aides and other relatives have secured coveted jobs in the administration.
Walter Shaub, an Obama-era government ethics director, said: “This royally sucks. I’m disgusted. A lot of us worked hard to tee him up to restore ethics to government and believed the promises. This is a real ‘f— you’ to us—and government ethics.”
Three children of the White House counselor Steve Richetti, the daughter of deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed, the daughter of the director of presidential personnel Cathy Russell, the sister of press secretary Jen Psaki, and the wife of Mr Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain are among the family members who have been appointed roles in the administration.