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President Biden will temporarily transfer power to Vice President Harris on Friday as he undergoes a routine colonoscopy. She’ll be the first woman and first Asian American to hold presidential authority, if only briefly.
Biden is being placed under anesthesia while having the procedure done at Walter Reed Medical Center as part of his annual physical, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
“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 in a statement.
Biden is using Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to transfer power, according to the White House. It states that the president must provide a written declaration to the president pro tempore of the Senate and speaker of the House 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.”
Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, had already reached a higher point in U.S. leadership than any woman or Asian American ever before her, and she is the first Black American to serve as vice president. Her rise has been hailed as an example of the future of the country that is becoming more diverse.
In her first speech as vice president-elect last year, she told young girls to “dream with ambition.”
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities,” she told cheering supporters in Wilmington, Del.
On Friday, Harris will be working from her office in the West Wing during Biden’s procedure, Psaki said.
The routine exam is Biden’s first as president and comes a day before he turns 79. Psaki said the White House would release a summary of the physical later in the day.
Biden had his last full exam in December 2019, when doctors described him as a “healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.”
The routine procedure often draws attention because of the importance of the president’s health, but Biden’s examination has drawn even more interest because of his age.
Biden is the oldest person to hold the office.