President Biden calls Vice President Kamala Harris a ‘first lady’

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President Biden mistakenly referred to Vice President Kamala Harris as a “first lady” during his equal pay remarks at the White House on Tuesday, and he continued to joke about the gaffe.

“There was a small change in the arrangement of who is on stage because of the first lady’s husband who contracted COVID, Biden said, according to video of the remarks available on CSPAN.

Earlier Tuesday, Harris’ husband Doug Emhoff tested positive for COVID-19. Harris tested negative.

An audience member appears to have mentioned the snafu to Biden, as the president continued to joke about it.

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“That’s right,” Biden said, pointing to his wife, Jill Biden. “She’s fine, it’s me who doesn’t understand.”

“And second, the first gentleman, what do you think?” continues the president.

Biden began his remarks by introducing himself as the first lady’s husband.

United States Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff depart France at Orly Airport on November 13, 2021 in Paris, France.

United States Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff depart France at Orly Airport on November 13, 2021 in Paris, France.
(Photo by Marc Piasecki/Getty Images)

“I’m Joe Biden. I’m the husband of Jill Biden and I’m proud of that,” he said.

Biden’s remarks focused on progress for women and called for equal pay, touting his administration’s efforts to close the “pay gap.” The president on Tuesday signed an executive order to promote efforts to achieve equal pay, encouraging the government to consider banning federal contractors from seeking information about the salary history of job applicants.

Earlier today, the Speaker of the House Nancy PelosiD-California on Tuesday commented on new data from the Department of Labor showing the wage gap.

U.S. President Joe Biden addresses an event to celebrate <a class=Equal Pay Day in the East Room of the White House March 15, 2022 in Washington, DC. Marking Women‘s History Month, Biden highlighted her administration’s efforts to eliminate the use of salary history in setting salaries for federal employees, which can drive down wages when moving from one job to another. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)”/>

U.S. President Joe Biden addresses an event to celebrate Equal Pay Day in the East Room of the White House March 15, 2022 in Washington, DC. Marking Women’s History Month, Biden highlighted her administration’s efforts to eliminate the use of salary history in setting salaries for federal employees, which can drive down wages when moving from one job to another. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In 2020, women won 83 cents for every dollar earned by men. The gap is especially stark for Hispanic women (57 cents) and black women (64 cents) when comparing their salaries to those of non-Hispanic white men.

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Critics have argued that the United States already prohibits gender discrimination in the workplace and that the pay gap is largely the result of individual choices, not discrimination. Men, on average, work in more dangerous but better paid jobs, while comparatively more women choose to devote all their time to motherhood.

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