Washington, Oct 9 (efe-epa).- The highest ranking Democrat in the United States presented Friday a bill to create a panel that would have a role in determining whether a president is incapable of fulfilling the duties of the office, but the speaker of the House of Representatives made it clear the measure would not apply to Republican incumbent Donald Trump.
“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,” Nancy Pelosi told a press conference at the Capitol.
“This legislation applies to future presidents, but we are reminded of the necessity of action by the health of the current president,” she said, referring to the Covid-19 infection that put Trump in the hospital for 72 hours.
Should Trump win a second term in the Nov. 3 elections and the bill were to become law, it would be applicable to him. But with the Senate currently under Republican control, the legislation has no chance of passing in the short term.
The president was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last Friday, about 18 hours after he disclosed via Twitter that both he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus.
Trump, 74, returned to the White House late Monday and says that he “feels great,” inaccurately touting the experimental treatments he underwent as “cures.”
Pelosi was joined in front of reporters by the author of the bill, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, an expert in constitutional law who pointed out that the 25th Amendment envisions the creation of the kind of commission he proposes.
In the wake of the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy, lawmakers agreed on the need for a constitutional amendment to clarify the rules for presidential succession.
Passed by Congress in 1965, the 25th Amendment took effect two years later after it was ratified by the requisite number of states. Section 4 of the amendment creates a mechanism for declaring the president incapacitated and designating the vice president as Acting President.
“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 … 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,” the text reads.
Though the amendment was enacted 53 years ago, Congress has yet to establish “such other body” to give the legislature a voice in the process.
“There’s never really a good time” to create the commission, Raskin said Friday. “In the age of Covid-19, we need to act.”
The coronavirus has claimed more than 210,000 lives in the US and several dozen people who work at the White House have tested positive.
The Maryland congressman’s plan calls for a panel of 16 members: half of them medical experts and the rest former senior executive branch officials, such as Cabinet secretaries.
Each party would name eight members, who would in turn elect a chairperson.
The commission would be activated “only for the most extreme situations” and could only act in concert with the vice president, Raskin said.
Pelosi, signaled Thursday that she was planning to address the 25th Amendment, prompting Trump supporters to accuse her of plotting a “coup,” much as they did earlier this year during the impeachment.
But Friday, the president said that Pelosi’s move was motivated by concerns about the health of the Democratic presidential candidate, 77-year-old Joe Biden, and a desire for a mechanism to elevate his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris.
“Crazy Nancy Pelosi is looking at the 25th Amendment in order to replace Joe Biden with Kamala Harris. The Dems want that to happen fast because Sleepy Joe is out of it!!!,” Trump tweeted. EFE