President Biden has faced a series of domestic and foreign policy crises since he declared the “State of the Union” to be strong during his most-recent address to Congress 11 months ago.
“We are stronger today than we were a year ago,” Biden concluded in his first State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol on March 1, 2022. “And we will be stronger a year from now than we are today.”
However, since the president’s remarks, the nation has struggled to suppress the growing migrant surge at the U.S.-Mexico border, gasoline prices hit an all-time record and inflation reached a 40-year-high, continuing supply chain issues led to a nationwide shortage of baby formula, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has escalated with no end in sight and Biden has faced pressure over his mishandling of classified documents when he served as vice president.
While Biden’s approval ratings have increased from 40.6% to 43.9% since his last State of the Union, his approval dropped to a measly 36.8%, its lowest level, in July 2022, according to an average of polling data compiled by Real Clear Politics. His approval rating remains lower than every recent president excluding former President Donald Trump whose rating sat at 41% at this point in his presidency.
“If President Biden is looking for an opportunity to alter a mostly static approval rating, the State of the Union, is his next best chance,” Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, told Fox News Digital last week. “Biden needs to flip public sentiment about the strength of the union and find middle ground to offset many Americans who view the political parties as extreme.”
The most recent crisis to hit the White House has been the revelation that a Chinese spy balloon was flying across the U.S., gathering intelligence on strategic sites throughout the Midwest. On Saturday, seven days after the balloon was first discovered by defense officials off the western coast of Alaska and two days after Pentagon publicly acknowledged it, a U.S. military fighter jet shot the balloon out of the sky over the Atlantic Ocean.
While Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin explained the delayed response was to protect Americans who may have been harmed were the balloon to fall on land, Republican lawmakers blasted the administration for being too weak. One GOP congressman said the incident was enough to warrant Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to resign.
“The catastrophic Chinese Spy Balloon spectacle clearly threatened American families from Alaska to my home community in South Carolina and confirms President Biden and Vice President Harris should resign,” said Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
The president has also been heavily criticized for a scandal revolving around how he mishandled classified documents from his tenure in the Obama administration. Over the course of the last several weeks, multiple batches of classified documents, some of which were marked “top secret,” have been found at various locations belonging to Biden including the Penn Biden Center, his foreign policy think tank, and the garage in his Wilmington, Delaware, residence.
The White House has stated that it has been transparent about the search for documents, but critics have accused Biden of purposely staying quiet on the scandal until after the 2022 midterm election to blunt the political impact of the scandal. Some classified documents were found shortly before the November election by the president’s lawyers.
In addition, the border crisis over the last year has sparked calls for Biden to take more aggressive action on immigration and some Republicans have supported moving forward with a resolution to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“The Department of Homeland Security states the purpose of the Secretary is to ‘secure and manage our borders.’ You have failed to do this job. Additionally, you have shown a complete ineptitude or unwillingness to fix the problems your policies have created,” a group of 11 Republican lawmakers from Texas wrote to Mayorkas last month.
According to the Customs and Border Protection, migrant encounters in December surpassed 250,000 for the first time on record. In addition, about 300,000 illegal immigrants evaded border agents in less than four months compared to the 600,000 reported last year and border encounters have already hit a record high in fiscal year 2023.
The Biden administration has also grappled with a baby formula shortage that has wreaked chaos on parents across the country. In mid-February 2022, baby formula maker Abbott Nutrition shut down its production plant in Michigan, leading to a shortage in the ensuing months that has stretched to 2023.
“Well, here’s the deal. I became aware of this problem some time in — after April — in early April, about how intense it was,” Biden said in June. “And so, we did everything in our power from that point on, and that’s all I can tell you right now. And we’re going to continue to do it until we get the job done.”
After receiving criticism about his administration’s response to the crisis, which led to empty shelves in stores nationwide, Biden ordered various agencies to devote resources to addressing the supply chain issues and the White House unveiled “Operation Fly Formula” as part of the effort. Since then dozens of “formula missions” have been conducted transporting millions of formula bottles to the U.S. from overseas.
And inflation has remained a key concern of Americans since Biden’s last State of the Union speech. In June, months after the address, inflation surged 9.1% year-over-year, the fastest uptick of its kind since 1981.
Rising consumer prices have impacted nearly every aspect of Americans’ lives from energy and food to shelter, apparel and everyday goods. While inflation has fallen below 7%, it remains far higher than government targets and the Federal Reserve has continued tightening interest rates which could have negative reverberations throughout the U.S. economy.
Energy prices like heating and gasoline costs have particularly put strain on American families. Pump prices increased past $5 per gallon in mid-June, hitting their highest level ever recorded before falling again, but currently remain 46% higher than when Biden took office.
Part of the pressure on energy costs have come as a result of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, another crisis Biden has been faced with. Biden has repeatedly stood alongside other Western nations in supporting Ukraine, sending the war-torn country tens of billions of dollars in military aid over the past nearly 12 months.
“Through every single step of this horrific war, the American people have been strong and unwavering in their support,” Biden said in remarks on Jan. 25.
“And Democrats and Republicans in Congress have stood together,” he said. “The United States has worked in lockstep with our Allies and partners around the world to make sure the Ukrainian people are in the strongest possible position to defend their nation, their families, and against the brutal — the truly brutal aggression of Russia. We haven’t seen the likes of this in a long time.”
Experts, though, have forecasted the conflict will continue to rage throughout 2023 which may be the bloodiest year of the war, likely forcing the president to make additional decisions on how much support he will offer Ukraine.
Biden is scheduled to deliver his next State of the Union address on Feb. 7.