Sat, 27 Nov 2021

As Biden anesthetized, VP Harris gains presidential powers

Robert Besser
23 Nov 2021, 01:03 GMT+10

WASHINGTON D.C.: President Joe Biden temporarily transferred power to Vice President Kamala Harris while undergoing a routine colonoscopy for 85 minutes on Friday.

Harris, the first female, first Black and first South Asian US vice president, broke yet another barrier, and worked from her office in the West Wing while Biden was under anesthesia, said White House spokesperson Jen Psaki.

It is routine for a vice president to assume presidential powers while the president undergoes a medical procedure requiring anesthesia.

Biden, who turns 79 on Saturday, arrived on Friday morning at Walter Reed Medical Center to undergo his first annual physical since becoming president.

To officially transfer his presidential powers to Harris, Biden sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the Senate president, before undergoing anesthesia.

Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution states the President can send a letter to the speaker of the House of Representatives declaring declaring 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."

To officially transfer his powers back to his office, a separate letter was sent by Biden after his procedure.

Biden is the oldest first-term president in U.S. history. The last update on his medical history came when his presidential campaign released a three-page summary of his medical record in December 2019.

Dr. Kevin O'Connor, Biden's primary care doctor since 2009, said Biden was as "a healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male," at that time.

The 2019 summary showed Biden was being treated for non-valvular atrial fibrillation, but the most significant medical event in Biden's history was when he suffered a brain aneurysm in 1988 while serving in the Senate, O'Connor wrote.

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