• World
  • Nov 20

How Kamala Harris got powers to serve as acting US President?

• US President Joe Biden briefly transferred power to Vice President Kamala Harris for an hour and 25 minutes to undergo a routine colonoscopy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

• Biden’s power transfer occurred while he was under anesthesia for the colonoscopy.

• That made Harris the “Acting President” under rules prescribed in Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. 

• Harris became the first woman to be given presidential powers in the US.

• She worked from her office in the West Wing of the White House during that time. 

• Biden resumed authority after the medical procedure.

How the presidential powers were transferred?

• Presidential power has been transferred to the Vice President before, when President George W. Bush had colonoscopies in 2002 and 2007.

• The US Constitution’s 25th Amendment lays out a process for the President to transfer power when he is unable to discharge his duties.

Section 3 of the 25th Amendment states that:

Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that 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.

• Pursuant to the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, Biden signed letters to Senator Patrick Leahy, who is president pro tempore of the Senate, and to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying he would be unable to discharge his duties while under anesthesia, making Harris the acting President. 

• Biden sent them another letter upon the conclusion of the procedure to resume his duties.

Another first for Kamala Harris

• Kamala Harris was elected as the first ever woman Vice President of the United States in January. She is also the country’s first Indian-origin, first Black and first African American Vice President of the country.

• Harris was born to two immigrant parents: a Black father and an Indian mother. Her father, Donald Harris, was from Jamaica, and her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, a cancer researcher and civil rights activist from Chennai. Harris was born in Oakland and grew up in Berkeley. 

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