Thursday, 29 April 2021

Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi make history as the first two women to sit together behind the president while he addresses Congress

 Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi made history Wednesday night, when, for the first time, two women shared the stage with the president when he addresses a Joint Session of Congress.

President Joe Biden delivered his first prime-time speech to a joint session and will be flanked by Pelosi and Harris, two California Democrats, who will appear behind him in the TV frame as he speaks. 

'About time,' he whispered to the two women when he joined them on the House rostrum, his words picked up by the microphones.

He began his speech with: 'Madame Speaker. Madame Vice President. No president has ever said those words from this podium, and it’s about time.'

The chamber burst into applause at his words.


Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi made history Wednesday night, when, for the first time, two women shared the stage with the president when he addresses a Joint Session of Congress

Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi made history Wednesday night, when, for the first time, two women shared the stage with the president when he addresses a Joint Session of Congress

President Joe Biden began his speech with: 'Madame Speaker. Madame Vice President. No president has ever said those words from this podium, and it¿s about time'

President Joe Biden began his speech with: 'Madame Speaker. Madame Vice President. No president has ever said those words from this podium, and it’s about time'

Harris down played the historic occasion. 

'Normal,' she told reporters in the Capitol as she walked to the House chamber, when asked the significance of two women seated behind the president. 

Pelosi was more enthusiastic.  

'It's pretty exciting, and it's wonderful to make history. It's about time,' Pelosi told MSNBC earlier in the day. 

Pelosi has been on the dais before. In 2007, she made history as the first woman to sit there - a fact then President George W. Bush noted during his State of the Union address. Bush said he had the 'distinct honor' of saying for the first time 'Madame Speaker.'  

She also sat at the rostrum for speeches by Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump. 

Pelosi, 81,  made history by becoming the first female House speaker during Bush's presidency. She reclaimed the powerful leadership post during Trump's presidency and sat behind him during his final two speeches to Congress, famously ripping up her copy of Trump's remarks in 2020 as cameras continued to roll after he was finished addressing lawmakers.

Harris, 56, made history last year when she became the first woman and first Black and Indian American person elected vice president. In her role as president of the Senate, she joins Pelosi to preside over the joint session of Congress.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi clasped hands to greet one another

Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi clasped hands to greet one another


Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, said Wednesday night will show men, women, boys and girls that women can attain and hold high-level positions and that they are as entitled to them as men are.

Walsh also noted Biden's promise to put a woman on his ticket, and pointed as well to the diversity of his Cabinet. She said Biden was likely to begin the speech by turning around to face Pelosi and Harris and feeling proud - not just personally, 'but I also think proud for the country and proud for his party and I think he will clearly see the historic implications of this and the role that he played in making that happen.'

'For all of us who care about women´s public leadership, we still look forward to the day when the person standing at the podium, in front, is a woman,' Walsh added. 'But for now this is a particularly gratifying moment.'

Apart from the speech Wednesday, Harris and Pelosi have notched another first in U.S. and women's history. They are first and second, respectively, in the line of presidential succession.

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