President Joe Biden briefly transferred power to Vice President Kamala Harris to undergo a routine colonoscopy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre before resuming his duties, the White House said.
Mr Biden drove early Friday to the medical centre in the Washington suburbs for his first routine physical exam as president.
Press secretary Jen Psaki said Mr Biden would be under anaesthesia during the colonoscopy and temporarily transferred power to Ms Harris.
Ms Psaki said Mr Biden resumed his duties after speaking with Ms Harris and White House chief of staff Ron Klain at approximately 11:35 am.
Ms Harris, the first woman, a person of colour and person of South Asian descent to be vice president, made history during the short time she served as acting president.
Vice President Kamala Harris (Patrick Semansky/AP)
She was scheduled to travel to Ohio later Friday after Mr Biden resumed his duties.
“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,” Ms Psaki said before Mr Biden’s colonoscopy.
“The Vice President will work from her office in the West Wing during this time.”
Mr Biden, 78, had his last full exam in December 2019, when 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.
Mr Biden, who turns 79 on Saturday, is the oldest person to serve as president, and interest in his health has been high since he declared his candidacy for the White House in 2019.
President Joe Biden (Susan Walsh/AP)
Dr Kevin O’Connor, who has been Mr Biden’s primary care physician since 2009, wrote in a three-page note that the then-presidential candidate was in overall good shape.
In that report, Dr O’Connor said that since 2003, Mr Biden has had episodes of atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat that’s potentially serious but treatable.
At the time, Dr O’Connor cited a list of tests that showed Biden’s heart was functioning normally and his only needed care was a blood thinner to prevent the most worrisome risk, blood clots or stroke.
Mr 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.
Pursuant to the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, Mr Biden signed letters to Senator Patrick Leahy, who is president pro tempore of the Senate, and to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 10:10 am, saying he would be unable to discharge his duties while under anaesthesia, making Ms Harris the acting president.
Mr Biden sent them each another letter upon the conclusion of the procedure to resume his duties.
On Friday afternoon, Mr Biden is scheduled to take part in the annual pardoning of the national Thanksgiving turkey.
Source: Irish Examiner