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Kamala Harris Will Very Briefly Become the First Female (Acting) President Today

Kamala Harris speaks outdoors from a podium with the presidential seal on it.

For the first time, the United States will have a female president today, if only very briefly.

President Joe Biden is scheduled to undergo a routine colonoscopy Friday. While under anesthesia, Biden will temporarily transfer presidential power to Vice President Kamala Harris, giving us our first-ever female (acting) president.

It’s not like Harris is going to implement any policy changes or pull a Janice McGeachin and try her hand at a coup while her boss is away. (Remember Idaho’s power-hungry anti-vax Lieutenant Governor? This will not be that.)

This sort of transfer of power is not inconsequential, but it is fairly routine. Other presidents have done it before, although notably, not Donald Trump. He was so insecure he reportedly refused anesthesia for his colonoscopy so as not to have to transfer power to Mike Pence. He also kept the procedure secret because, according to his former press secretary, he didn’t want to be “the butt of a joke” on late-night TV. That’s unfortunate because he could have taken the opportunity to bring awareness to a procedure that still carries a needless stigma. Instead, he reinforced that stigma in order to protect his own ego.

Luckily, that’s in the past! Today, Kamala Harris makes history—again—as the first woman to hold presidential powers in the U.S.

(image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.