The 25th Amendment formalizes that the vice president takes over the duties of the presidency in the event of a president’s death, inability to perform his duties or resignation from office. It also lays out a process by which a sitting president may be removed from office. Congress’s role in this, however, is limited.
President Trump’s four-day hospitalization at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after contracting the novel coronavirus forced the administration to answer questions about the 25th Amendment and succession.
Administration officials said Trump remained on the job despite his hospitalization for covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, and there were no plans for Vice President Pence to assume even temporary authority as president. Trump returned to the White House on Monday evening.
Pelosi, who as speaker is second in line to the presidency, previewed the move on Thursday, telling reporters that she would discuss the 25th Amendment on Friday. She did not elaborate.
“Tomorrow, by the way, tomorrow, come here tomorrow,” Pelosi abruptly told reporters at her weekly news conference, during which she mainly spoke about the need for a new round of coronavirus economic relief. “We’re going to be talking about the 25th Amendment.”
Asked toward the end of her news conference whether she could give more details, Pelosi only reiterated her call for reporters to return Friday.
Raskin introduced a similar measure in 2017 that would establish a congressionally appointed commission of physicians and top leaders who could evaluate the president’s health — both mental and physical — and work with the vice president on a transfer of power.
At the time, the Maryland Democrat said the move was necessary because Trump had “thrown our country into chaos at every turn” since his inauguration that January.
“For the security of our people and the safety of the Republic, we need to set up the ‘body’ called for in the 25th Amendment,” Raskin said in 2017. “The president can fire his entire Cabinet for asking the same question tens of millions of Americans are asking at their dinner tables, but he cannot fire Congress or the expert body we set up under the Constitution.”
Since Trump’s discharge Monday, some Democrats have voiced concern about the potential side effects of his medical treatment.
During an interview Wednesday on ABC News’s “The View,” Pelosi suggested that Trump’s covid-19 medications, which include steroids, may be having an effect on his mental capabilities.
“I said yesterday to my colleagues, I said there are those who say that the steroids had an impact on people’s thinking. I don’t know, but there are those health-care providers who say that,” Pelosi said. “Also, if you have the coronavirus, it has an impact, as well.”
Under the 25th Amendment, a president could be declared “disabled” and involuntarily removed from office by joint agreement of the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet, something that has never happened.
In an event with the 92nd Street Y on Tuesday, Pelosi dismissed any suggestion of the 25th Amendment being used against Trump before the election.
“I don’t think it would work for this president — this presidency,” she said.