GOP bill would require birth certificate from presidential candidates

A GOP lawmaker will introduce legislation in the coming weeks to require any candidate running for president to file a copy of his or her birth certificate with the Federal Election Commission.

“It’s the right thing to do and it’s long overdue,” Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.), the bill’s sponsor, wrote in an email to The Hill.

Posey insisted the legislation is not directed at President Obama, who has battled charges that he was not born in the U.S. and is ineligible to serve as president since before he entered the Oval Office.

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“This legislation has never been about one candidate,” Posey wrote. “It’s been about addressing something that’s come up at least seven times before. With its passage, this won’t be a distraction for anyone in the future.”

Posey previously introduced the legislation in 2009, when Democrats held the House, but it could have a better chance of moving forward now that Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) is Speaker.

Obama this week sought to put to rest questions about his birthplace by releasing his long-form birth certificate, which shows he was born in Honolulu. He said the country should move on from the “silliness” of the birther controversy and cease paying attention to “carnival barkers” like Donald Trump.

Trump, who is considering a run for the presidency, has repeatedly questioned whether the president was born in the U.S. This seemed to have an impact on opinion polls, which showed an increasing number of Republican voters harboring doubts about where the president was born.

Republican strategists worry their party could be hurt by talk about Obama’s birthplace, which many in both parties see as a fringe issue. At the same time, many Republican officeholders are loath to criticize the birther movement.

Posey said his legislation would put an end to controversies about whether a candidate is eligible to serve as president, sparing the nation from the sorts of distractions surrounding Obama.

If his bill became law, Posey said, the firestorm over whether Obama was born in Hawaii and can serve as president would have been “resolved discreetly” prior to the 2008 campaign.

Posey’s bill, first introduced in March 2009, would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. It would require a presidential candidate’s principal campaign committee to include a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate with the committee’s statement of organization.

The bill would also require that a candidate for president establish that he or she is a citizen eligible to serve as president by providing documents proving he or she has been a U.S. resident for 14 years, and that he or she is at least 35 years of age.

When Posey’s bill was introduced in 2009, Democrats held the House, and it subsequently languished in the Committee on House Administration. It was co-sponsored by a dozen members, including Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

Asked if he thought the bill would have a better chance in the GOP-led 112th Congress, the lawmaker hedged: “I think Congress should deal with it and move on.”

In arguing his bill is not directed toward Obama, Posey said eligibility questions also came up with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was born in the Panama Canal Zone.

“A number of major media outlets were happy to make Sen. McCain’s eligibility a serious issue for him in 2008 just after he won the Republican nomination,” wrote Posey. “The issue hung over McCain’s head for months during the campaign and it could have been resolved when he filed for office.

“It says to me that we have no process in place to verify a candidate’s eligibility before jumping into a campaign,” he added.

Posey hopes to make the bill bipartisan, but declined to comment on which lawmakers will co-sponsor the reintroduced legislation.