Viewers saw Harris and Pelosi rise to their feet repeatedly during Biden’s address to applaud – something Pelosi largely avoided during Trump’s speeches to Congress.
Biden, as vice-president, spent eight years seated behind Barack Obama as the latter addressed joint sessions of Congress, with Harris assuming Biden’s former seat for the first time on Wednesday.
Pelosi has plenty of experience in these settings, having served as speaker of the House since 2019, and previously from 2007 to 2011.
In 2019 her parental-style clapping of Donald Trump during his State of the Union address became a viral moment, while a year later she was lauded by the left after she tore up a copy of Trump’s speech.
A president’s first address to Congress is usually an extravagant affair, witnessed by hundreds of guests, but the Covid pandemic means the audience was scaled back for Biden’s speech – from 1,600 guests to 200. Only one member of the supreme court – Chief Justice John Roberts – was invited, and members of Congress were told not to bring guests.