US: Harris, Pelosi make history at Joe Biden's first address to Congress
History was made on Wednesday night when US Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi took their seats behind President Joe Biden as he addressed his first joint session of Congress.
According to The Hill, it marked the first time both seats on the dais behind a US President delivering an address to Congress were filled by women. The moment comes months after Harris became the first Black American, South Asian American and woman to be US vice president.
Biden acknowledged the historic moment shortly after he assumed his place at the podium.
"Madam Speaker. Madam vice president. No president has ever said those words from this podium," Biden said to claps from those in attendance.
"No president has ever said those words, and it's about time, and it's about time," Biden continued before turning around to join in applauding the two women.
Pelosi remarked on the significance of the moment during an interview ahead of the address on Wednesday, according to The Hill.
"It's wonderful to make history. It's about time," said Pelosi, who is the only woman to serve as Speaker and who broke another glass ceiling when she became the first woman on the same dais, sitting behind former President George W. Bush while he addressed Congress in 2007.
"This is just so exciting, but let's just talk not only about making history but making progress for the American people, and that's what President Biden will be doing," Pelosi said before touting some of the Biden administration's policy actions as the President approaches his first 100 days in office.
The hill further reported that attendance was much lower than previous presidential addresses due to pandemic restrictions as well as security concerns following the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, when a pro-Trump mob stormed the building as Congress prepared to certify the Electoral College vote affirming Biden's victory.
Only about 200 people were expected to be able to attend, whereas almost all 535 members of Congress, Cabinet officials, guests, Supreme Court justices and reporters would fill the House chamber when attending past addresses prior to the pandemic, according to the news outlet.
First lady Jill Biden was also not accompanied by guests, who previously would be invited to attend presidential addresses to call attention to certain priorities of the administration. Lawmakers also were not allowed to bring guests.