Kamala Harris Makes History as First Woman With Presidential Power During Biden Health Procedure

When President Joe Biden underwent a routine colonoscopy on Friday, Nov. 19, Vice President Kamala Harris made U.S. history by becoming the first woman to hold powers of the presidency.

By Kisha Forde Nov 19, 2021 7:44 PMTags
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Kamala Harris is breaking records in more ways than one this year.
 
On Friday, Nov. 19, President Joe Biden temporarily transferred powers of the presidency to Vice President Harris while he was under anesthesia for a routine colonoscopy. Harris, who made history in January of this year by becoming the first woman, first Black and first South Asian vice president, held the presidential power for close to an hour and a half during Biden's procedure.
 
Earlier that day, Biden sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and president pro tempore (the representative chosen to preside over the Senate in the absence of a vice president) Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont to officially transfer the presidential powers to Harris before his procedure.
 
"Today I will undergo a routine medical procedure requiring sedation," the letter read in part. "In view of present circumstances, I have determined to transfer temporarily the powers and duties of the office of President of the United States to the Vice President during the brief period of the procedure and recovery."

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Around noon, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed on Twitter that Biden had since resumed his duties and was no longer under sedation.

Brian Cahn/ZUMA Wire

"@POTUS spoke with @VP and @WHCOS at approximately 11:35am this morning," Psaki tweeted. "@POTUS was in good spirits and at that time resumed his duties. He will remain at Walter Reed as he completes the rest of his routine physical."

Although Harris made history as the first woman with presidential powers, this isn't the first time a president has temporarily transferred power. George H.W. Bush served as acting president for almost eight hours while serving as vice president under President Ronald Reagan, who underwent surgery in 1985. Bush's son, former President George W. Bush transferred power to his vice president, Dick Cheney twice, while undergoing similar procedures in 2002 and 2007, respectively.
 
 

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