Another glass ceiling has shattered.
On Friday, November 19th, Vice President Kamala Harris was transferred presidential power for a monumental 85 minutes as President Joe Biden underwent a routine colonoscopy and physical at Walter Reed Hospital.
As the nation’s first South Asian, Black and female Vice President, Harris has already broken barriers for women, especially women of color in the political field.
Before becoming the Vice President, Harris notably served as District Attorney of San Francisco, Attorney General of California and as California Senator.
Originally, Harris ran as a presidential candidate for the 2020 election before resigning due to insufficient funding, she later endorsed Biden and was chosen as his Vice-Presidential running mate.
To allow Harris to serve as acting president while Biden was under anesthesia, Biden wrote a letter which was sent to the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and President Pro
tempore of the Senate, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
The letter Biden wrote, published in an article on CNN.com, said, “Today I will undergo a routine medical procedure requiring sedation. 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.”
During her time as acting president, Harris worked in her office in the West Wing of the White House.
Once President Biden’s procedure finished, Press Secretary Jen Psaki released an update on twitter.
“@POTUS spoke with @VP and @WHCOS at approximately 11:35 a.m. this morning. @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,” Psaki wrote.
After the procedure and physical, Biden appeared to be in “an exultant mood,” according to
The New York Post.
For Biden to officially receive all presidential power back, he was required to write an additional letter to Pelosi and Leahy.
“In accordance with the provisions of section 3 of the Twenty-Fifth 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 letter reads.
Temporary presidential transfers of power occur frequently as many presidents have needed their Vice President to cover for them in various medical situations, they are almost considered to be a routine action.
In section three of the 25th amendment, which Biden mentioned in his letter, it is written 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.”
This constitutional change of power occurred because of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas in 1963.
The first acting president was Vice President George H.W. Bush, on July 13, 1985, when he received temporary presidential power from President Ronald Reagan.
A report reviewing the 25th amendment was published by The University of Virginia’s Miller Center in 1988, after forming a ten-member commission.
According to CNN.com, a part of the report read, ‘“In short, let the president wave from his window to show he is up and around but convalescing while the vice president, as acting president under Section 3, takes care of the day-to-day business.”’
This is exactly what President Biden and Vice President Harris did on November 19th.