House Dems introduce bill that would set up a commission to investigate a president's health

House Speaker Pelosi says she’ll talk about the 25th amendment on Friday
Posted at 1:32 PM, Oct 08, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, introduced legislation Friday that establishes a Congressional commission that would be able to investigate a President's health under the 25th Amendment.

While President Donald Trump's health has come into question following his COVID-19 diagnosis, Pelosi and Raskin insisted that while Trump's health prompted their bill, it would not be used to remove him from office.

Instead, Raskin said the commission would be a bipartisan effort that would be set up in case the health of other presidents came into question.

Passed in 1967, the 25th amendment to the U.S. Constitution spells out the presidential line of succession.

The amendment has four sections:

1- When a president dies or resigns, the vice president finishes the term.
2- When there is a vice presidential vacancy, the House and Senate votes to confirm a replacement nominated by the president.
3 - When a president needs to temporarily cede power, he or she can hand the duties to the vice president who then becomes the acting president.
4 - The vice president and a majority of secretaries can vote to remove the president if the president is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. The section also grants power to a body "established by Congress" to invoke the amendment and transfer power to the Vice President.

Raskin said his bill would establish that "body" that could investigate the health of the president.

For Congress to invoke the 25th Amendment, the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate must provide "written declaration" that the President is "unable to discharge powers and duties of his office." Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is the current President pro tempore and will unlikely make such a declaration. In addition, the President could object to the Congressional body's findings.

Reports surfaced later on Thursday that the House is planning to introduce legislation to institute a commission to evaluate the president's health.

Pelosi then criticized the White House for not stating the president last submitted a negative coronavirus.

“I think that the public needs to know the health condition of the President. There’s one question they refuse to answer. Before he got the virus and admitted to it, when was his last negative test? When was his last negative test? To make a judgment on the actions that were taken after that,” Pelosi said.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Congress has no authority to remove the president under the 25th Amendment.