Despite his own Democratic Party controlling all branches of government, President Biden is heading into his second year in office without making any significant progress on his key campaign initiatives, including voting rights, climate change, the economy, police and immigration reform and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden is experiencing his lowest approval numbers yet as his agenda remains largely stalled in Congress, largely due to his inability to unify his party, which is striking fear in Democrats as they cling to razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate ahead of the November midterm elections.

Critics said his White House news conference Wednesday didn't help, with one calling it a "total disaster."


Biden promised to protect voting rights during his campaign, but his federal voting rights legislation, which would water down voter ID requirements that individual states have passed, failed in the Senate on Wednesday night due to moderate Democrats who are averse to abolishing the filibuster precedent. 

Moderate Democrats also got in the way of Biden passing his Build Back Better Act, which contains $555 billion in proposed climate action. The landmark bill named after his 2020 campaign slogan is all but dead after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., refused – after months of negotiations and party infighting – to support certain provisions in the bill and its roughly $2 trillion price tag. 

President Joe Biden

President Biden speaks about the hostage incident at a synagogue in Texas as he arrives with first lady Jill Biden to pack food boxes while volunteering in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service at Philabundance, a hunger relief organization, in Philadelphia Jan. 16, 2022. (Getty Images)

The White House has championed the passing of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which sent $1,400 checks to most Americans, and the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law as major legislative achievements for Biden, but an increasingly vocal number of Democrats say they’re disappointed in what could have been a transformative year.

"People are feeling like they’re getting less than they bargained for when they put Biden in office. There’s a lot of emotions, and none of them are good," Quentin Wathum-Ocama, president of the Young Democrats of America, told The Associated Press. "I don’t know if the right word is ‘apoplectic’ or ‘demoralized.’ We’re down. We’re not seeing the results."

"We need transformative change — our very lives depend on it," added Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo. "And because we haven’t seen those results yet, we’re frustrated — frustrated that despite everything we did to deliver a Democratic White House, Senate and House of Representatives, our needs and our lives are still not being treated as a top priority. That needs to change."

"We need transformative change — our very lives depend on it. And because we haven’t seen those results yet, we’re frustrated."

— U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo

Upon entering office, Biden announced a list of "immediate priorities" for his administration, which included delivering "criminal justice reform" in the name of racial equity – a pledge backed by progressives like Bush and even many Republicans. But Biden backed away from his initial plan in March to create a national police oversight commission and instead threw his weight behind the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the House without any Republican support. The legislation did not advance in the Senate, and Democrats ended negotiations without a deal in September.

Biden also "barely mentioned" the cash bail system during his first year in office, PolitiFact reported, despite his promise on the campaign trail that he would end what he described as a "modern-day debtors' prison," and he has not taken any steps to fulfill his promises of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, which are two key steps advocated by criminal justice activists.


Biden mentioned yet another "immediate" priority on the campaign trail — moving "quickly to contain the COVID-19 crisis by expanding testing" and "safely reopening schools and businesses." The president has been widely criticized for his handling of the pandemic as the omicron variant surged across the country and shut down schools in many Democratic-led cities and people waited in lines for hours to obtain a COVID-19 test. 

People wait in line to be tested for COVID-19 at Union Station

People wait in line to be tested for COVID-19 at Union Station Jan. 7, 2022, in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)

The White House announced last week that 500 million rapid at-home tests would be available for ordering online beginning Wednesday for free, but that only four tests can be ordered per household on a government website that is already experiencing problems. And shipping through the U.S. Postal Service will take a glacial 7-12 days. 

The Biden administration will also be distributing 400 million free N95 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile, dispersing them through pharmacies and community sites across the country, a White House official confirmed Wednesday.

Too little, too late?

The rollout of tests and masks has critics saying it’s too little, too late. Biden admitted in an interview with ABC News’ David Muir last month that the administration could have been better prepared for the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.

Biden's attempt to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for businesses with more than 100 employees has also failed, after the Supreme Court blocked the order last week and ruled that the coronavirus was not an occupational hazard, but rather a "universal risk." It did, however, leave in place the mandate for health care workers in facilities receiving funding from Medicare and Medicaid.


Biden’s promise to "build our economy back better from the pandemic" is also flailing, with inflation hitting 7% in December, the highest number in 40 years. And while the Biden administration has celebrated low unemployment and higher average wages as signs that the economy is booming, that message isn’t translating to voters.

gas prices

Gas prices grow along with inflation as this sign at a gas station shows in San Diego, California, Nov. 9, 2021. (Reuters)

Inflation, according to a FOX Business poll conducted last month, is easily the biggest economic problem voters say they face, and 47% of voters think Biden is making inflation worse, along with 28% who say he's not making a difference.

Until recently, the White House did not seem to be taking inflation very seriously. Just three months ago, Biden's chief of staff shared a tweet calling inflation a "high class" problem

Another immediate priority Biden promised to address was to "reform our long-broken and chaotic immigration system."

The U.S. Border Patrol has said it had more than 1.72 million encounters with migrants along the Mexican border during fiscal year 2021, the most ever recorded. Last week, Border Patrol agents nabbed convicted murderers, a sex offender and gang members in one part of the southern border in less than two days.

The Biden administration has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the border crisis, with Republicans accusing the administration of having fueled it by rolling back Trump-era policies that were introduced during the 2019 crisis and that brought numbers down dramatically. The Biden administration has accused the Trump administration of shutting down legal asylum pathways and has blamed the surge on "root causes" like violence and poverty in Central America.

Del Rio International Bridge near the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas

Migrants, many from Haiti, are seen at an encampment along the Del Rio International Bridge near the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas, Sept. 21, 2021. (Associated Press)

Biden has backed proposals for sending billions of dollars in aid to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras in hopes that improved economic conditions will slow migration, but he has made little to no mention of the immigration crisis since pushing the issue onto Vice President Kamala Harris, who has been widely criticized for her largely hands-off approach since she was named border czar last March. Her office announced Tuesday that she would travel to Honduras later this month to address the issue, marking her second visit to the Northern Triangle since taking office.

"This administration is more worried about the open border pundits than they are U.S. citizens," National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd told "America’s Newsroom" on Tuesday. "They are allowing criminal cartels to generate profits that have never been seen before, and it is simply because they are trying to appease their base rather than protect the American public."

"They are allowing criminal cartels to generate profits … because they are trying to appease their base rather than protect the American public."

— Brandon Judd, National Border Patrol Council

During the 2020 presidential election, Biden described "horrifying scenes" at the U.S.-Mexico border of "kids being kept in cages" and federal agents "ripping children from their mothers' arms" under the Trump administration. Harris, also accused then-President Trump of "putting babies in cages" and committing "human rights abuse."

But the "cages," or chain-link indoor enclosures to hold migrants at the border facilities, were built by the Obama administration, under which Biden served as vice president — and they are still being used by the current administration. 

No sign of specifics

Biden promised last year to implement a new "humane" asylum system, but there’s been no sign of specifics from the White House.

A plan he unveiled last year to put millions of illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship has also stalled in Congress.


While Biden took several actions to address climate change upon entering office, like rejoining the Paris climate agreement, climate change activists and groups have also expressed disappointment that many of his campaign promises have gone unfulfilled and that the failure of Build Back Better will make it even more difficult.

An analysis last week from Evergreen Action, an environmental group, looked at 46 executive actions on climate change that Biden promised on the campaign trail and determined that he still has a lot of work to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The group argued that Biden must have legislative support, as well as executive action, in order to fulfill his pledge to slash emissions in half by 2030.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks while joining the White House Covid-19 Response Team's call with the National Governors Association discussing the Omicron variant in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Dec. 27, 2021. Biden's medical adviser said a domestic travel vaccination rule should be considered as the omicron variant fuels record Covid-19 case loads in some states and holiday travel continues to be disrupted around the U.S. Photographer: Ken Cedeno/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden speaks while joining the White House COVID-19 Response Team's call with the National Governors Association discussing the omicron variant in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., Dec. 27, 2021.  (Getty Images)

Biden also broke a campaign promise to ban new oil and gas leases on federal lands and offshore waters when he opened more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to auction for drilling in November. The new leasing was court ordered, but some environmental groups cried foul that the administration was not more aggressive in trying to block it.

"Biden is failing us," Sunrise Movement spokesman John Paul Mejia told the AP. "If Biden doesn’t use the time he has left with a Democratic majority in Congress to fight tooth and nail for the promises that he was elected on, he will go down in history as a could-have-been president and ultimately a coward who didn’t stand up for democracy and a habitable planet."


Biden’s promise to restore "America’s global standing" is also in serious doubt following the chaotic and deadly U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, which left hundreds of Americans and allies stranded in the Taliban-controlled country, and with Russian President Vladimir Putin poised to attack Ukraine despite Biden’s repeated threats of economic sanctions. 

Biden’s response, or lack thereof, to the situation in Ukraine will likely influence China’s Xi Jinping in determining next moves regarding Taiwan.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Keith Koffler, Joseph A. Wulfsohn, Brandon Gillespie and The Associated Press contributed to this report.