Pelosi: Commission on Presidential Capacity 'Is Not About President Trump' -- Unless Trump Wins

By Susan Jones | October 9, 2020 | 11:07am EDT
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announces a bill to create a ommission to evaluate the president's capacity to discharge the duties. (Photo: Screen capture)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announces a bill to create a ommission to evaluate the president's capacity to discharge the duties. (Photo: Screen capture)

(CNSNews.com) - "This is not about President Trump," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a news conference on Friday as she announced a bill to establish a 16-member commission to evaluate the president's capacity to discharge the duties and the powers of the office.

"This is not about President Trump. He will face a judgment of the voters," Pelosi said. "But he shows a need for us to create a process for future presidents."

Trump, of course, may be a future president if he wins re-election. And Pelosi admitted that: "If the president wins election, yes, it would apply to him," she said.

Pelosi said the commission will strengthen "guardrails" in the Constitution "to ensure stability and continuity of government in times of crisis."

She continued:

The 25th Amendment creates a path if a president suffers a crippling physical or mental problem and is unable in the amendment, unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office and transfers his powers.

Specifically, Section 4 of the amendment empowers Congress to set up an independent body to confront such a crisis. Congress has a constitutional duty to lay out the process by which a president's incapacity -- and the president of any party -- is determined.

This bill honors the duty by creating a standing commission of top former executive officials and medical experts selected in a bipartisan way. A president's fitness for office must be determined by science and facts.

This legislation applies to future presidents. But we are reminded of the necessity of action by the health of the current president. With this bill, the Congress honors our oath to support and defend the Constitution and protect the American people. And we uphold our responsibility to preserve our Republic for generations to come.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), said, "We do need to pass the bill, certainly in the next Congress. The Framers of the 25th Amendment knew that you could not always count on the Cabinet to act, so Congress has a role to play."

Indeed, Section 4 of the 25th Amendment does say that either a majority of Cabinet members or "such other body as Congress may by law provide" has the power to declare in writing that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. "Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session."

Democrats have failed to bring down the Trump presidency, first with the Trump-Russia investigation and then with a partisan impeachment based on a phone call.

On Friday, Pelosi insisted, not very convincingly, that the commission is not the third such attempt to get rid of Trump, should he win re-election. "This isn't about any of us making a decision about whether the 25th Amendment should be invoked. That's totally not the point. That's not up to us," she said.

Pelosi in recent days has cast doubts on Trump's mental state because of medications he's taken for COVID. Likewise, Republicans and others have wondered about Democrat Joe Biden's mental capacity, given his age (78 in November).

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment is reprinted below:

Section 4. 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.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days 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. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session.

If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

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