Announcer Leaves VP Harris In A Very Awkward Position After Calling Her ‘Heather Kurtenbach’

PBS Newshour

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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The announcer at President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill signing ceremony left Vice President Kamala Harris in an awkward situation after announcing the wrong speaker Monday.

Harris, Biden and union member Heather Kurtenbach all approached the stage together to give separate speeches celebrating the bipartisan bill. The announcer, however, assumed that Kurtenbach would be the first person to speak, despite Harris approaching the microphone first. Harris handled the snafu with a brief joke.

“Please welcome, Heather Kurtenbach!” the announcer said even as Harris stood at the podium.

“In a moment,” Harris said following a brief pause.

The signing ceremony celebrated the passing of Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, which passed with bipartisan votes in both the House and the Senate. Republican Ohio Sen. Rob Portman spoke at the event, and Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana also attended. (RELATED: What Do Americans Know About The Build Back Better Act?)

The bill passed following extensive negotiations that took place largely among different wings of the Democratic Party. Moderates like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona butted heads with the more radical wing comprised of New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her squad of like-minded representatives.

The bill represents some much-needed progress for Biden and Democrats, who suffered in recent elections in part due to a perception that they have been unable to get things done in Washington.

Democrats who spoke at the event emphasized that the project is not complete, however, and the much larger Build Back Better Act still must be passed through Congress. Democrats plan to pass the bill through reconciliation, which would remove the need for any Republican votes.

The ceremony came hours ahead of Biden’s virtual meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Biden is expected to discuss China’s commitment to addressing climate change, as well as the country’s numerous human rights abuses.