Harris, Pelosi make history seated behind Biden at speech

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Vice President Kamala Harris, left, greets House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., ahead of President Joe Biden addressing a joint session of Congress, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Jim Watson/Pool via AP)

WASHINGTON – Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made history Wednesday as the first women — one of them Black and Indian American — to share the stage in Congress during a presidential address.

President Joe Biden noted the historic development at the very opening of his address. After taking the podium, Biden greeted the two women standing behind him with a “Madam Speaker” and “Madam Vice President.”

He then declared, “No president has ever said those words — and it’s about time.”

Biden delivered his first prime-time speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night flanked by Pelosi and Harris, two California Democrats.

The two began the night with another historic moment: An elbow-bump hello, a pandemic spin on the traditional handshake. Pelosi and Harris stood side by side behind the dais in the House chamber, chatting with each other and occasionally waving to lawmakers as the group waited for Biden to arrive.

“It's pretty exciting. And it's wonderful to make history. It's about time,” Pelosi said hours before the speech during an interview on MSNBC.

Pelosi already knows what it feels like to sit on the rostrum in the House chamber and introduce a president for their speeches. She has sat there for several addresses by Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Women's advocates said seeing Harris and Pelosi seated together behind Biden will be a “beautiful moment.” But they noted that electing a woman to sit in the Oval Office remains to be achieved, along with the addition of an equal rights amendment to the Constitution.