WASHINGTON — President Biden underwent his first physical as president on Friday, becoming the oldest commander in chief to receive a full medical evaluation while in office. He briefly transferred power to Vice President Kamala Harris while he underwent a colonoscopy.
“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,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary said. “The vice president will work from her office in the West Wing during this time.”
While the procedure was performed, Ms. Harris became the first woman to hold acting presidential powers, for roughly 85 minutes. Mr. Biden, who is 78, resumed his duties around 11:35 a.m., Ms. Psaki said in a tweet, and was “in good spirits” after the procedure.
Mr. Biden used Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to temporarily transfer power, the administration said. Under that provision, the president was required to notify Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and the president pro tempore of the Senate, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi that he was temporarily unable to carry out his presidential duties. Those letters were transmitted to both at 10:10 a.m.
The decision to offer transparency was a marked departure from the information offered by Mr. Biden’s predecessor, Donald J. Trump, who made an unexpected and unexplained visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in November 2019. During that visit, his aides have said, Mr. Trump received a colonoscopy.
Mr. Biden’s physical and colonoscopy were done at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The administration said early Friday that it would issue a fuller summary of Mr. Biden’s physical later in the day.