House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pursues change to 25th amendment


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday clarified her plans to pursue a change to the 25th Amendment amid President Donald Trump’s recovery from COVID-19. 

The move would establish a process to effectively give Congress a say in removing a president from office under the 25th Amendment of the Constitution, which allows for a president to be removed from office if a majority of Cabinet members and the vice president consider him unable to carry out his duties. Section four of the 25th Amendment also says that if a majority of a body established by law, along with the vice president, declare in writing that if the president is disabled and unable to do his job, the vice president immediately becomes the acting president. 

The 25th Amendment states: “Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.” 

The new proposal would create a commission of 17 people – eight appointed by Republicans and eight appointed by Democrats – as well as a chair selected by the entire body. That commission could study the President’s health as well as request an exam of the President. If the President refused, the commission could make a judgment on the President’s condition with the information they already had. A majority of the commission could vote to remove the President, but only with the Vice President. That commission would be made up of physicians as well as former executive office holders, and could include past presidents, vice presidents, secretaries of state or other former executive branch office holders (CNN). 

Pelosi’s legislation is almost certain to be rejected by the Republican-held Senate. If a commission ever were to be established, and if a vice president were to agree that a president was unable to serve, the 25th Amendment requires 2/3 of each chamber of Congress to affirm that finding within 25 days. 

Democrats say the bill will create that body to help determine the fitness of the President. The proposal was formally introduced Friday by Pelosi and Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland. At a news conference announcing the measure, Pelosi insisted that the legislation would apply to future presidents, rather than Trump, but argued that his recent health challenges underscore the need for such a process. “This is not about President Trump. He will face the judgment of the voters, but he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents,” Pelosi said at her Friday press conference introducing the bill. She then went into an explanation of her medical diagnosis of Trump, claiming he’s in an “altered state” because of the medication he’s taking to treat COVID-19. 

Asked if she has questions about the President’s capability to serve in the office right now, Pelosi said, “What I said about the President was that we don’t know if somebody who – I’ve not said this, I’ve quoted others to say there are those who say that when you’re on steroids and/or if you have Covid-19 or both that there may be some impairment of judgment, but again that’s for the doctors and the scientists to determine.” At the morning press conference, Pelosi poked fun at Trump’s Thursday morning declaration. “He’s a perfect physical specimen, did he say? Specimen, maybe I could agree with that. And young, he said he was young. His disassociation from reality would be funny if it weren’t so deadly,” Pelosi said. 

The comments prompted an angry retort from Trump, who retweeted several messages suggesting that Pelosi is trying to mount a coup. “She’s gone crazy. She’s a nut job,” Trump said Friday in an interview with Rush Limbaugh. Trump ultimately responded to Pelosi: “Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation. They don’t call her Crazy for nothing!” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the efforts by House Democrats as “absurd” Friday. “That’s absurd. Absolutely absurd. Again, right here in the last three weeks before the election, I think those wild comments should be largely discounted,” he said speaking at a news conference in Kentucky.


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