Kamala Harris in charge of the US while Biden goes under anesthesia

US Vice President Kamala Harris will be in charge of the country for a brief period on Friday morning when President Joe Biden goes under anesthesia for a colonoscopy being conducted as part of his annual physical.

The White House said Harris would work out of her office in the West Wing, meaning she will not be in the Oval Office as she assumes presidential power. Harris takes over amid reports she is being sidelined by the administration, which the White House has vigorously denied.  

The President headed to Walter Reed for his physical as the Democrats passed his $1.75 trillion Build Back Better spending bill and days after a poll said American voters were split on whether he is mentally fit and healthy enough to handle the presidency.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends regular screenings for colon cancer starting at age 45. A colonoscopy can last about an hour. George W. Bush was the last president to undergo a colonoscopy with anesthesia while in office. And he transferred power to then Vice President Cheney at the time.

Biden’s motorcade arrived at Walter Reed Military Center at 8:51 a.m. ET on Friday morning, where he was to undergo his first physical as president. It comes the day before his 79th birthday. Biden, wearing a face mask, waved as he went inside.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced early Friday morning that Biden would be examined, adding later he ‘will undergo a routine colonoscopy.’  

‘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. The Vice President will work from her office in the West Wing during this time,’ Psaki said.

The White House will publicly release a written summary of the Biden’s physical later Friday afternoon, she noted.

As required by the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, Biden will sign a letter to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives saying he is unable to discharge his duties while under anesthesia and designate Harris. Biden will send them another letter upon the conclusion of the procedure, noting he has resumed his duties of office.  

Biden’s procedure comes as the House was voting to approve his $1.75 trillion Build Back Better package of social safety net programs. 

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