President Biden briefly transferred the power of the presidency to Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday morning as he underwent a routine physical.
The White House announced that Biden would be going under anesthesia to receive a colonoscopy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, making Harris the first woman to hold powers of the presidency.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki released a statement Friday morning with the announcement, stating that Harris would work from her office in the West Wing while the president was sedated.
Biden entered Walter Reed a little before 9 a.m. local time.
The White House formally submitted letters to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., president pro tempore of the Senate, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi informing them of the transfer of power at 10:10 a.m.
According to Psaki, the president resumed his duties at 11:35 a.m., when he spoke with Harris and White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. He is “in good spirits,” Psaki said, and will remain at Walter Reed as he completes the physical.
Psaki said that the White House would release a “written summary” of Biden’s physical later in the afternoon.
Former President George W. Bush twice transferred the power to his vice president, Dick Cheney, while undergoing a similar procedure during his two terms in office, each time for a little over two hours. Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, was acting president for about eight hours in 1985 while serving as vice president under President Ronald Reagan, who was undergoing colon cancer surgery.
The ability to temporarily transmit the power via a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate was enacted via the 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967.
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