Acting president of the United States

person acting as POTUS when the president is unavailable

The acting president of the United States is a person who temporarily acts as president when the president is unable to carry out their duties, but remains in office. The position was created by the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The acting president possesses all presidential powers and duties during the time of their term but does not become the president, instead serving only as acting president. This term lasts until the president declares in writing that they are no longer unable to execute the duties of their office themselves.

George H.W. Bush later became president. To date there have been three acting presidents. They were vice presidents:

  • Vice President George H. W. Bush acted for President Ronald Reagan, when he was under a colonoscopy procedure on July 13, 1985 He later became president in 1989. He died in 2018.
  • Vice President Dick Cheney twice acted for President George W. Bush, when he was also under a colonoscopy procedure on June 29, 2002 and July 21, 2007
  • Vice President Kamala Harris acted for President Joe Biden, when he was under a colonoscopy procedure on November 19, 2021.[1] She became the first woman in American history to hold presidential powers[2]


  1. Feinberg, Andrew (November 19, 2021). "'First woman president': Kamala Harris makes history when she briefly assumes powers of presidency during Biden procedure". The Independent. Washington, D.C. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  2. Pengelly, Martin (November 19, 2021). "Kamala Harris takes on presidential role – briefly – as Biden has colonoscopy". the Guardian.

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