US President Joe Biden on Friday temporarily transferred power to his deputy Kamala Harris while he was under anesthesia for a routine colonoscopy for one hour and 25 minutes, according to the White House.
The US’ first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president Harris broke another barrier as she became the first woman to hold presidential powers in the country.
“In view of present circumstances, I have determined to transfer temporarily the powers and duties of the office of President of the United States to the Vice President during the brief period of the procedure and recovery,” Biden said in letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy ahead of the procedure.
As House speaker, Pelosi is second in line to the presidency after the vice president. Leahy, as Senate president pro tempore, is third.
When presidential power was transferred to Harris, her codes were temporarily activated, giving her presidential authority to launch nuclear weapons.
During the short time this morning when VP Harris is Acting President (under the terms of the 25th Amendment), the authentication codes on her “Biscuit” will also be activated, enabling her—if needed—to use the backup Presidential Emergency Satchel to authorize a nuclear attack. https://t.co/PEQtR1gU8h pic.twitter.com/Is8NCNaPxx
— Stephen Schwartz (@AtomicAnalyst) November 19, 2021
Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution allows the president to temporarily transfer power if he or she is unable to fulfill his or her duties.
Harris worked from her office in the West Wing while Biden was under anaesthesia, according to the White House.
.@POTUS spoke with @VP and @WHCOS at approximately 11:35am this morning. @POTUS was in good spirits and at that time resumed his duties. He will remain at Walter Reed as he completes the rest of his routine physical.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) November 19, 2021
In the US, it is usual for a vice president to assume presidential powers whenever the president requires anaesthesia. Presidential power has been transferred to the vice president before, when President George W. Bush had colonoscopies.