It is also the first time in several years that the president, vice president and speaker all belong to the same political party.
Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made history on Wednesday, marking the first time two women sat behind the President during a congressional speech. The pair sat behind Joe Biden as he delivered his first congressional speech since becoming President earlier this year. It's common for the vice president and the speaker of the House to sit behind the President as he delivers a speech to the joint session of Congress. Biden, who was a constant feature in congressional speeches made by Barack Obama, started his speech by acknowledging the Vice President and House Speaker, reported The Huffington Post. "Madame Speaker, Madame Vice President," said Biden at the beginning of his speech before stating the significance of the moment. "No president has ever said those words from this podium, and it’s about time," said Biden, who had chosen Kamala Harris as his VP candidate. He turned and applauded them, following which the rest of the members rising to their feet. It is also the first time in several years that the president, vice president, and speaker all belong to the same political party.
Harris also made history earlier this year when she became the first Black person, Indian American, and woman to become vice president of the country. "You may be the first to do many things. Make sure you’re not the last," Kamala Harris' mother often told her. Pelosi became the first woman speaker of the House of Representatives in 2007, holding the position till 2011. Pelosi became speaker again in 2019 when Democrats regained control of the House. Former Senator Barbara Boxer said the visual of two women in power positions during the congressional speech is a sign of change. "It says a lot about a country, and a lot about Joe Biden, and it says certainly a lot about both women who have made it to that place. It’s going to be very emotional for me," said Barbara Boxer, whose Senate seat Kamala Harris had filled when the former retired, reported CBS.
Pelosi described the event as historic. "It’s very exciting, it’s so exciting to be up there with Kamala Harris — the Vice President of the United States. Not just a woman — but an African American woman, an Asian American woman. A minority woman," said Pelosi. "It’s wonderful to make history. It’s about time. I made history when I was the first speaker to be standing behind President [George W.] Bush. And he made note of that. Now this is just so exciting. I tell kids who come here, see all these statues. It’s important that we memorialize and honor those who gave us the country we have but they would want us to be looking forward." Pelosi had also touched upon the significance of her becoming a speaker when she was elected to the post in 2007. "For our daughters and granddaughters, today we have broken the marble ceiling," she said at the time. "Now the sky is the limit. Anything is possible."
Only 200 people attended Biden's congressional speech because of the coronavirus pandemic. In normal circumstances, close to 1,600 people attend the event. Biden's speech was centered on navigating the pandemic and rebuilding America from the health and financial crisis. "Tonight I come to talk about crisis and opportunity, about rebuilding a nation, revitalizing our democracy, and winning the future for America. I stand here tonight one day shy of the 100th day of my administration, 100 days since I took the oath of office and lifted my hand off our family Bible and inherited a nation, we all did, that was in crisis. The worst pandemic in a century. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War. Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again," said Biden in his speech.