Before the Nov. 3 elections, Biden seemed certain that Democrats would sweep the House and Senate. That would have made it likely for him to set Franklin Roosevelt-esque reform to deal with the public health and economic crises.
Fast-forward to Wednesday, and Biden does have Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress. The problem is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is hanging on to power by the smallest thread since Republicans' majority in 2001. The Senate, meanwhile, is split 50-50 seats each.
Democrats will only control the body from Wednesday, when Vice President-elect Kamala Harris can cast tie breaking votes.
Biden never cast a tie breaking vote himself during his eight years as former President Barack Obama's second in command. And his transition has suggested he and Harris would prefer to make bipartisan offerings for their beliefs rather than depending on the heavy-handed move.
At the same time, Biden is already under stress from more liberal Democrats. So-called "Squad" leader, Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, never supported him. And others, such as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, have promised to pull Biden toward the far left on policy.
With President Trump poised to be removed as a common enemy, Biden will now have to woo Republicans while disputing the more liberal wings of his party.
Republican strategist Brad Todd said the coming weeks and months would test Biden as the centrist Democrat who defeated socialist Bernie Sanders in the 2020 nomination but then required to appeal to his stand for the White House.
"The entire premise of Biden’s candidacy was that he was a moderate and would work with Republicans. He boasted that he was not a leftist and that he was the one who had beaten the leftists. Now, we will get to find out if he meant any of that or not," OnMessage's co-founder told the Washington Examiner.
Biden's $1.9 trillion "American Rescue Plan," issued last week, will grant his first challenge. His proposal to dole out $1,400 checks to supplement December's $600 direct payments, for instance, has split both parties.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a potential 2024 GOP presidential runner, urged Biden to include $2,000 checks in his COVID-19 package.
Though Biden's $1,400 announcement earned scorn from many Republicans, such as centrist Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
Toomey had defended Biden amid Trump's election disputes.
“Blasting out another $2 trillion in borrowed or printed money — when the ink on December’s $1 trillion aid bill is barely dry and much of the money is not yet spent — would be a colossal waste and economically harmful,” Toomey said in a statement.
A related spectrum of opinion exists among Democrats.