Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi appeared on the House dais behind President Joe Biden Wednesday night, marking the first time in U.S. history two women have appeared in that setting.
Harris, the first woman and person of color to serve as vice president, while Pelosi, a long-serving Speaker of the House, were present as Biden made his first speech to a joint session of Congress. Harris serves as president of the U.S. Senate.
Biden’s first big audience cheer of the evening came seconds into his speech, when he said, “Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President.”
“No president has ever said those words from this podium and it’s about time,” Biden said.
“It’s about time,” Pelosi told MSNBC when asked about her view on the historic moment.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain noted the historic nature of the dais seating as he previewed the speech last week, as reported by CNN.
“For the first time in American history, behind the President when he speaks, will be two women: a woman vice president, and woman speaker of the House. Presidents have been addressing Congress since George Washington did it,” Klain said during a conversation with Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, adding, “It wasn’t until 14 years ago that the first time one of those seats was filled by a woman. So it took a long time to get to that milestone. Fourteen years later, for the first time, there’ll be two women behind the President.”
The symbolic seating also connotes the first time that women are first and second in the presidential line of succession, a sign of women in power in their respective roles.