And despite Democrats’ slim majorities in both chambers, Biden’s path toward victory on Capitol Hill remains dotted with landmines. He could try to work with Republicans and risk a stalemate or months of inaction, angering his own base. He could try to force a bill through without any GOP votes, blowing up his own promises of unity and bipartisanship in the first weeks of his term. Or, as progressive Democrats fear, he could search for a compromise — running the risk of a watered-down package that takes months to pass, omits some priorities and sparks only sluggish economic growth.

Against a backdrop of high unemployment, low inflation and interest rates near zero, “it’s screaming that lawmakers should put their foot flat to the fiscal policy accelerator and press,” said Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

Biden “can’t press on the accelerator by himself,” Zandi said. “He desperately needs Congress to kick into gear here.”