United States President Joe Biden temporarily transferred power to Vice President Kamala Harris while he was placed under anesthesia for a routine colonoscopy on Friday for one hour and 25 minutes, CNN reported. Harris became the first woman to briefly be given presidential powers as Biden underwent his annual health check just a day before his 79th birthday.
Biden arrived Friday morning at Walter Reed Medical Center for his first routine annual physical since he became president. Harris was temporarily in charge of affairs.
The vice president worked from her office in the West Wing while Biden was under anesthesia, according to the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
“@POTUS spoke with @VP and @WHCOS at approximately 11:35am 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 tweeted.
Harris took the oath of office in a historic ceremony in January, becoming the first woman, first Black American and first South Asian American to hold the office of vice president. The daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, Harris was sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to serve on the Supreme Court.
For two decades in public life, Harris has achieved a lot of firsts: the first Black woman to serve as San Francisco’s district attorney, the first woman to be California’s attorney general, first Indian American senator, and now she is working by Biden’s side.
Even though she was criticized during her time as attorney general for not doing enough to cater to police brutality, especially when she refused to investigate the police shootings of two Black men in 2014 and 2015, she did demonstrate political independence while in office.
In the midst of the protests against police brutality and racial injustice in the United States, it was not surprising that many prominent Black male leaders called on Biden to select a Black woman as his vice presidential running mate to increase his election chances.
“Black women have always been the backbone of this Democratic Party, and oftentimes not valued for our ability to lead,” said Barbara Lee, who was a co-chair of Harris’ own presidential bid.
“But I tell you now, Black women are showing that Black women lead, and we’ll never go back to the days where candidates only knew our value in terms of helping them get elected. Now they will see how we govern from the White House.”
This story has been updated with additional information.