Pelosi Backs Bill To Assess Presidential Capacity As Trump Battles Coronavirus
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has announced her support for “legislation that would establish a panel of experts and former executive branch officials to determine whether a president lacks the mental or physical capacity to carry out the job,” Politico reports.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), would shore up a process established under the 25th Amendment by which the vice president can assume control of the presidency if the president becomes incapacitated or is unable to perform the duties of the office. It’s highly unlikely the measure will become law.
Under the 25th Amendment, the process of supplanting an ill or incapacitated president currently falls to the vice president, in consultation with the president’s Cabinet. If they determine that the president is unable to fulfill the duties of the office, they can determine collectively to elevate the vice president. The amendment itself, passed in 1967, is a vestige of the nuclear era, when Washington and the world were gripped by concerns about potential war between the United States and the Soviet Union.
A lesser-known aspect of the 25th Amendment permits Congress to establish an alternative body, rather than the Cabinet, to consult with the vice president. But such a body has never been created. Raskin’s bill would change that.
- Pelosi said the bill “is not about the election at all,” adding, “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.”
- The proposal comes as questions have swirled around Trump’s actual health status, as “Trump’s doctors and senior aides have offered conflicting reports on his health, sometimes alarmingly so,” Politico noted.
- Pelosi said the bill is not about presidential “behavior” but rather an actual diagnosis by medical professionals.