'No President's Ever Said Those Words' From the Podium

Harris, Pelosi made history as first 2 women behind a president during address
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2021 5:45 AM CDT
Updated Apr 29, 2021 6:21 AM CDT
Harris, Pelosi Made History Wednesday Night
Vice President Kamala Harris elbow bumps House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., before President Biden speaks to a joint session of Congress Wednesday, April 28, 2021.   (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

"Thank you all—Madame Speaker, Madame Vice President," President Biden said at the start of his address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night. He added: "From this podium, no president's ever said those words—and it's about time." Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the first and second in the line of presidential succession, made history as the first women to stand behind a president during a formal address to Congress, the New York Times reports. Pelosi, who became the first female speaker of the House in 2007, has been behind presidents during previous addresses, but it was the first time for Harris, the first female vice president.

"It's pretty exciting, and it’s wonderful to make history," Pelosi told MSNBC hours before the speech Wednesday. "It's about time." CNN reports that the two women elbow-bumped when they reached the podium and Biden got a round of applause when he acknowledged the historic moment. Former President George W. Bush got a standing ovation from lawmakers in his 2007 State of the Union address when he acknowledged Pelosi and observed that he was the first president in history to begin an address with the words "Madam Speaker," NPR notes. (Read more Kamala Harris stories.)

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