Harris Briefly, But Historically, Takes Over As Acting President While POTUS Undergoes Routine Colonoscopy


President Joe Biden briefly transferred power to Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday while he underwent a routine colonoscopy, setting up a history-making moment as Harris became the first woman to hold that authority during the short time she stepped in as acting president.

The President transferred power to Harris, the first woman, first Black person, and first person of South Asian descent to be vice president, for one hour and 25 minutes while he was under anesthesia at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. President Biden, the oldest person to serve as president, turns 79 on Saturday. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said he resumed his duties after speaking with Harris and White House chief of staff Ron Klain at approximately 11:35 a.m. As the President left the medical center in the afternoon, he said he was feeling “Great!”

The President’s visit to the medical center in the Washington suburbs was for his first routine physical exam in office and his first overall since December 2019.

While serving as Acting President Kamala Harris was working from her office in the West Wing, Psaki said. She later traveled to Ohio once President Biden awoke from the procedure. President Biden was keenly aware of the history he was making when he selected Harris to be his running mate, Psaki said, adding that she made “history every day” in the job. “Today was certainly another chapter in that history I think that will be noted for women, young girls across the country,” she added.

During President Biden’s last physical exam, doctors found the former ice president to be “healthy, vigorous” and “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency,” according to a doctor’s report at the time. And to her credit, Acting President Harris waited until President Biden was back in action before she even looked at her social media. There’s a notable gap in her Friday Twitter feed during those hours.

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President Biden’s predecessor famously refused anesthesia when he underwent the same procedure because he didn’t want to have to sign power over to Mike Pence.

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