BETESDA, Maryland (AP) – President Joe Biden briefly handed over power to Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday when he underwent a routine colonoscopy, a historic moment as Harris became the first woman to receive this power in the short time she entered. as acting president.
Biden turned over power to Harris, the first woman, first black and first South Asian to become vice president, for one hour and 25 minutes while he was anesthetized at the Walter Reed National 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 Klein at approximately 11:35 am.
Interest in Biden’s health has been high since he announced his candidacy for the White House in 2019, and remains active as speculation about a re-election in 2024 circulates. The visit to a medical center in the Washington suburbs was his first scheduled medical check-up as president – and his first since December 2019.
Leaving the medical center in the afternoon, Biden said he felt “great!”
“Excellent physical condition and excellent voting in the House of Representatives,” he said, referring to the House’s adoption of its nearly $ 2 trillion social and environmental agenda.
Back at the White House, he said, “Nothing has changed” with his health, joking, “We’re in great shape and I’m looking forward to my 58th birthday.”
While serving as acting president, Harris worked from her office in the West Wing, Psaki said. She later traveled to Ohio when Biden woke up from the procedure.
According to Psaki, Biden was well aware of the story he was making when he chose Harris as his partner, adding that she made “history every day” in that position.
“There was definitely another chapter in this story today, and I think it will be celebrated for women and young girls across the country,” she added.
During Biden’s last medical examination, doctors deemed the former vice president “healthy, energetic,” and “fit for the successful presidency,” according to a doctor’s report at the time.
Dr. Kevin O’Connor, who has been Biden’s primary care physician since 2009, wrote in a three-page memo that the then presidential candidate is generally in good shape.
In that report, O’Connor said that since 2003, Biden has had episodes of atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat that is potentially serious but treatable. At the time, O’Connor cited a list of tests that showed Biden’s heart was functioning normally, and his only concern was with a blood thinner to prevent the most alarming risk of blood clots or stroke.
Biden faced death in 1988 when surgery was required to repair two brain aneurysms, weak bulges in arteries, one of which was leaking. Biden never had a relapse, according to his doctor, citing a 2014 test that examined his arteries.
In accordance with the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, Biden signed letters to Senator Patrick Leahy, acting President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi at 10:10 a.m., saying that he would not be able to perform his duties under anesthesia. making Harris acting president. Biden sent them another letter to each other upon completion of the resumption of duties at 11:35 am.
“As in the case when President George W. Bush used the same procedure in 2002 and 2007, and in accordance with the procedure set out in the Constitution, President Biden will transfer power to the Vice President for a short period of time while he is under anesthesia. , – said Psaki before Biden’s colonoscopy.
Biden will take part in the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon on Friday afternoon.
When Biden took office, he brought O’Connor back to the White House to continue working as his doctor, and O’Connor was expected to lead the expert panel on Biden’s physical examination on Friday.
After the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, Biden’s team took active steps to keep the then-candidate and now the president healthy as the virus raged on and took disproportionately high tolls among the elderly. Biden received his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, and his second dose just two weeks before taking office. In late September, he received a booster dose that regulators say provides longer lasting protection.
Psaki said Biden’s physician would issue a “comprehensive written summary” of his physical exam, as is customary for presidents and presidential candidates. Former President Donald Trump, 75, has been heavily criticized for revealing only superficial health information while working and at the White House, including hiding the seriousness of his COVID-19 illness a month before the 2020 presidential election.