According to White House sources, U.S. President Joe Biden temporarily handed over power to Vice President Kamala Harris for 1 hour and 25 minutes (85 minutes) during anesthesia under routine colonoscopy on the 19th local time. This made the latter the first woman in American history to officially hold the acting presidency.
Previously, Harris made history when the situation in the 2020 U.S. election gradually became clear. She is both the first female vice president in American history and the first African and Asian (Indian) to hold the position. According to White House Press Secretary Jane Psaki, Harris worked in her office on the west wing of the White House when Biden was anesthetized.
In order to formally transfer presidential power to Harris, at 10:10 a.m. EST on the 19th, Biden sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Interim Speaker Patrick Lesch, Democratic Senator of Vermont, before accepting anesthesia.
The letter reads, “Today I will accept a routine medical procedure that requires anesthesia. In view of the current situation, I have decided to temporarily transfer the powers and responsibilities of the President of the United States to the Vice President for a short period of surgery and recovery.
According to article 3 of the twenty-fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the president can send letters to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the interim speaker of the Senate, declaring that “he shall not be able to perform his duties and responsibility until the president submits a statement to the contrary, and his powers and responsibilities shall be performed by the Acting President of the Vice President”.
In order to take power back to the president, Biden sent another letter to Pelosi and Lesch after the medical process was over.” In accordance with article 3 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, I hereby convey to you my written statement that I am able to perform the powers and duties of the President of the United States and restore them.”
November 20th local time is Biden’s 79th birthday. He is the oldest president in the history of the United States, and people have always been interested in his health. This medical examination is Biden’s first routine medical examination since he took office as President of the United States, so it has attracted much attention in the American media.
White House Chief of Staff Klein said Biden was “in good spirits” after completing the medical examination. Biden’s doctor Kevin O’Connor concluded in the medical summary on the 19th that Biden “stills a healthy and energetic 78-year-old man who is suitable for successfully performing presidential duties”.
Earlier this year, Stephanie Grisham, former press secretary of former President Donald Trump, strongly hinted that Trump secretly went to Walter Reid National Military Medical Center for colonoscopy in 2019, but did not transfer presidential power to then Vice President Mike Pence. She also wrote that George W. Bush had similar operations when he was in office.
According to article 3 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Harris served as Acting President for 85 minutes. Psaki said that it was not uncommon to transfer power during the president’s anesthesia. Previously, then President George W. Bush handed over power to the then Vice President during routine colonoscopy in 2002 and 2007.
In November, a poll released by USA Today and the University of Suffolk in the United States showed that Harris’ approval rating was as low as 28%, which can be regarded as the most unpopular vice president in American history.