After briefly transferring the Presidential powers to US Vice President Kamala Harris, US President Joe Biden resumed his presidential duties late Friday night. According to the White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, the temporary power transfer to Vice President Kamala Harris was done while Biden underwent anaesthesia for a colonoscopy.
As per White House, this was a history-making moment as Harris became the first woman to hold that authority during the short time she stepped in as acting president.
Biden transferred power to Harris, the first woman, first Black person and first person of South Asian descent to be vice president, for one hour and 25 minutes while he was under anaesthesia at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Biden, the oldest person to serve as president, turns 79 on Saturday. Press secretary Jen Psaki said he resumed his duties after speaking with Harris and White House chief of staff Ron Klain.
Interest in Biden’s health has been high ever since he declared his candidacy for the White House in 2019 and remains intense as speculation about a 2024 reelection bid swirls. The visit to the medical center in the Washington suburbs was for his first routine physical exam as president — and his first since December 2019.
As Biden left the medical center in the afternoon, he said he was feeling “Great!” “Great physical and a great House of Representatives vote,” he said, referring to the House passage of his roughly $2 trillion social and environmental agenda.
Earlier after arriving back at the White House, he said “Nothing’s changed” with his health, joking, “We’re in great shape, and I’m looking forward to celebrating my 58th birthday.”
While serving as acting president Harris was working from her office in the West Wing, Psaki said. She later travelled to Ohio once Biden awoke from the procedure. Biden was keenly aware of the history he was making when he selected Harris to be his running mate, Psaki said, adding that she made “history every day” in the job.
“Today was certainly another chapter in that history I think that will be noted for women, young girls across the country,” she added.
During Biden’s last physical exam, doctors found the former vice president to be “healthy, vigorous” and “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency,” according to a doctor’s report at the time.
Biden had a brush with death in 1988, requiring surgery to repair two brain aneurysms, weak bulges in arteries, one of them leaking. Biden has never had a recurrence, his doctor said, citing a test in 2014 that examined his arteries.
Psaki said Biden’s doctor’s would release a “comprehensive written summary” of his physical, as is customary for presidents and presidential candidates. Former President Donald Trump, 75, was sharply criticized for releasing only cursory details on his health while running and serving in the White House, including concealing the seriousness of his COVID-19 illness a month before the 2020 presidential election.