President George W. Bush transferred the powers of the presidency to Vice President Dick Cheney on Saturday just before being sedated for a routine screening to detect colon cancer.
With a signed letter to the leaders of the House and Senate, Bush temporarily transferred his authority at 7:16 a.m. (1116 GMT) to Cheney, who is at his home on the Chesapeake Bay in St. Michaels, Maryland, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Washington.
"The vice president is now serving as acting president," White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said.
He said the temporary transfer of power will end when Bush transmits a second letter to the congressional leaders advising that he is resuming the powers of the presidency immediately.
Bush relinquished his authority by implementing Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. The amendment — approved in 1967 four years after President Kennedy was assassinated — has been used only twice before.
The first time was in July 1985 when President Ronald Reagan underwent surgery and turned over power to his vice president, Bush's father. The other time was when Bush relinquished his presidential powers to Cheney for more than two hours during a colon cancer scan on June 29, 2002.
Dr. Richard Tubb, the president's doctor, was supervising Bush's colonoscopy, which was being done at the Camp David presidential retreat. The colonoscopy was being performed by a team from the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland.
"Although no polyps were noted in the exam in 2002, age and history would suggest that there's a reasonable chance that polyps will be noted this time," White House press secretary Tony Snow said Friday. "If so, they'll be removed and evaluated microscopically."
Two polyps were discovered during similar examinations in 1998 and 1999, while Bush was governor of Texas. That made the 61-year-old president a prime candidate for regular examinations.
Snow, himself a cancer sufferer, said results would be available after 48 hours to 72 hours, if not sooner.
Snow had his colon removed in 2005 and underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colon cancer. On March 26, he underwent surgery to remove a growth in his abdominal area, and doctors determined that cancer had metastasized, or spread, to the liver.
For the general population, a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer is recommended every 10 years. But for people at higher risk, or if a colonoscopy detects precancerous polyps, follow-up colonoscopies often are scheduled in three- to five-year intervals.
Associated Press. "Dick Cheney Assumes Presidential Powers as Bush Undergoes Colonoscopy." 21 July 2007. FOXNews.com. 21 July 2007. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,290263,00.html