With little more than 4-weeks before the American people choose who they want to serve in the White House for the next four years, Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveils a bill which’ll outline a new procedural process of determining the mental and physical fitness of the President.
Written in the aftermath of the JFK assassination, the 25th Amendment established a Constitutional method of transferring the powers of the presidency to the Vice President in times of crisis when the President is, for one reason or another, incapacitated. This can be either through a written declaration by the President, like when President Reagan underwent surgery and bestowed presidential powers to H.W. Bush for the duration of the procedure, or in the unseen case where the Vice President assembles a majority of the cabinet and announces to Congress the President’s inability to fulfill the duties of the office.
But, as mentioned by Pelosi, there’s a third lesser known path for removing a President without impeaching them. “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,” declares the President unfit to serve, the Vice President takes over as Acting-President.
The bill proposed by Congressman Raskin and endorsed by the Speaker creates a new commission to judge a President’s fitness.
Up to and including today, a President’s mental fitness has never been publicly challenged by their cabinet, but this bill would, for the first time, establish a process for Congress to recommend the removal of the President if the Vice President fails to get a majority of the cabinet on board. the commission would then conduct a health evaluation on the President and send their report and recommendation to Congress.
This comes less than a week after President Trump was discharged from the hospital after a relatively mild battle with COVID-19. According to his doctors, Trump is expected to fully recover.
After Trump’s release from Walter Reed Hospital, Pelosi questioned whether the drug cocktail given to the President, which included steroids, Remdesivir, an experimental antibody medication, and supplemental oxygen, could be altering Trump’s mental state.
“The president is, shall we say, in an altered state right now,” Pelosi said following his release. “I don’t know how to answer for that behavior.”
On a call with fellow Democrats Tuesday night, the Speaker said, “believe me, there are people … who think that steroids have an impact on your thinking. So, I don’t know.”
“I do practice medicine on the side without benefit of a diploma, as a mother and a grandmother, but I hadn’t gone into mental health yet,” She added.
Pelosi had recently floated the possibility of impeaching Trump if he continued to push through the nomination of Judge Amy Comey Barrett to the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
When asked whether House Democrats would rule out impeaching Trump for exercising his Constitutional duties, Pelosi said, “well, we have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss right now, but the fact is we have a big challenge in our country. This president has threatened to not even accept the results of the election with statements that he and his henchmen have made.”
“This is not about President Trump,” Pelosi said when pressed whether this bill was targeted towards Trump, who’s up for reelection in 24 days. “He will face the judgment of the voters. But he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents.”
This bill would not go into effect during Trump’s first term, but it would apply to him if he wins in November. While Trump is allegedly not the intended target of the legislation, he was the inspiration.
“There’s never really a good time to do it,” Raskin said. Trump’s health has “focused everybody’s mind on the need for following through on this suggestion in the 25th Amendment that Congress set up its own body.”
The Commission on Presidential Capacity would be comprised of 17 members – 8 medical professionals, 8 former top executive branch officials, and a chairman chosen by commission members. Congress would be slated with choosing 16 of the 17 members through a bicameral process, according to the Speaker.
As news of the proposal broke, Trump weighed in, speculating that this policy was targeted not at him, but at Joe Biden.
“Crazy Nancy Pelosi is looking at the 25th Amendment in order to replace Joe Biden with Kamala Harris,” Trump tweeted. “The Dems want that to happen fast because Sleepy Joe is out of it!!!”
Many are now questioning Joe Biden’s mental fitness following months of little campaign activity, short speeches, and a relatively weak debate performance. Some are theorizing that the Biden administration would be dominated by his Vice Presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, and Pelosi’s proposal would be used by Democrats to swap out Biden in favor of a more radical Harris.