Vice President Kamala Harris was acting President of the United States for 85 minutes while President Joe Biden underwent a full medical examination on Friday. Harris became the first woman, the first person of color, and the first person of South Asian descent to be vice president and acting president when Biden was briefly in hospital.
Biden had gone for a colonoscopy at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and is the oldest United States president at age 78 to ever get a full medical evaluation while in office. He transferred power to VP Harris during this period and also notified Senator Patrick J. Leahy and Speaker Nancy Pelosi of his inability to serve as president since he would be anesthetized during his hospital stay.
Leahy is the president pro tempore of the Senate, and he and Pelosi should be notified in writing according to Section 3 of the 25th Amendment. They both got the notification letters at past 10 on Friday morning.
The section states that “Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Harris would work from the West Wing while the president was away.
“As was the case when President George W. Bush had the same procedure in 2002 and 2007, and following the process set out in the Constitution, President Biden will transfer power to the vice president for the brief period of time when he is under anesthesia,” Psaki said. “The vice president will work from her office in the West Wing during this time.”
Psaki said President Biden’s full medical examination was successful and that he resumed his duties at about 11:35 a.m. She said the president was in “good spirits” and had also communicated his interest to resume duties to Harris, Leahy, and Pelosi.
“In accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution, I hereby transmit to you my written declaration that I am able to discharge the powers and duties of the Office of the President of the United States and that I am resuming those powers and duties,” the president wrote.
Former President Donald Trump may also have undergone a full medical examination that included colonoscopy at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in November 2019. But he failed to reveal the purpose for his visit to the hospital, indicating that he was not transparent to Americans as Biden has done by declaring the situation.