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Kamala Harris Makes History as First Woman to Assume Powers of the Presidency

For the second time this year, Friday morning, Vice President Kamala Harris made history.

Harris — who became the first woman, the first person of Black descent and the first person of South Asian descent to inhabit the office when she assumed the role in January — added another first to her list of accomplishments.

During President Joe Biden's routine physical, for around 85 minutes, she became the first woman to ever assume the powers of the presidency.

"She makes history every day," White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who noted that Biden knew he was making long-overdue history with his pick for a running mate, said of Harris, "But certainly today was another chapter in that history. And I think that will be noted for many women [and] young girls across the country."

According to Debbie Walsh, the director of the Center for American Women and Politics, the stint at the top does not count as a woman having served as U.S. president, but it does reinforce that “for the first time a woman is the number one person in the line of succession,” she told Reuters. “It is still not the presidency, that glass ceiling has not yet been broken.”

Biden, 78, underwent anesthesia to receive a colonoscopy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center during the physical. The White House pre-announced the procedure which triggered the application of Section 3 of the 25th Amendment which gives the president the ability to temporarily transmit the power via a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate.

It was the third time such use had been made of an amendment. The two previous uses came under President George W. Bush.

"As was the case when President George W. Bush had the same procedure in 2002 and 2007, and following the process set out in the Constitution, President Biden will transfer power to the Vice President for the brief period of time when he is under anesthesia," Psaki said in a statement announcing the transfer earlier on Friday. "The Vice President will work from her office in the West Wing during this time."

According to the White House, Biden arrived at the hospital shortly before 9 a.m. local time and 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.

Harris, 57, worked from her office in the West Wing of the White House during that time Psaki said until Biden officially resumed his duties at 11:35 a.m.

Following the procedure, Psaki tweeted that the president was, "in good spirits" and had resumed his duties. Harris followed up the historic moment by traveling from Washington, D.C., to Columbus, Ohio, where she was scheduled to give remarks promoting infrastructure deal Biden signed into law by Biden earlier this week.

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