House Democrats to unveil bill to create commission on ‘presidential capacity’
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will unveil a bill on Friday with Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a constitutional law expert, that would create a commission to determine whether a president is fit for office amid concerns over President Trump becoming sick with COVID-19.
Pelosi’s office announced Thursday that she and Raskin will formally introduce the bill at a news conference on Capitol Hill on Friday morning, hours after she hinted to reporters that “we’re going to be talking about the 25th Amendment.“
It’s expected to reflect legislation that Raskin originally introduced in 2017 that would establish a commission to determine presidential fitness for office as outlined by the Constitution’s 25h Amendment, which outlines presidential removal procedures.
The 25th Amendment states that the vice president and a majority of either the president’s Cabinet “or of such other body as Congress may by law provide” can declare that they believe a president cannot fulfill his or her official duties. Raskin’s original bill would have established said “body” to be made up of physicians, psychiatrists and former public officials like former presidents or Cabinet secretaries selected by congressional leadership.
Raskin told The Hill on Friday, hours after Trump announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19, that he would be updating his bill.
“I’ve got my 25th Amendment legislation from the last Congress, H.R. 1987, which I’m going to be dusting off and reintroducing,” Raskin said.
When asked Thursday if she believed it is time to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, Pelosi declined to go into detail but questioned why the White House wasn’t providing a full accounting of Trump’s health, including when he last tested negative for COVID-19.
“I’m not talking about it today except to tell you, if you want to talk about that, we’ll see you tomorrow,” Pelosi said. “But you take me back to my point, Mr. President, when was the last time you had a negative test before you tested positive? Why is the White House not telling the country that important fact about how this made a hot spot of the White House?”
Pelosi has repeatedly questioned Trump’s mental health and suggested that he needs an “intervention” from family members and White House advisers.
Pelosi suggested again on Thursday that the medications that Trump is taking for COVID-19 are causing mental impairment and erratic behavior.
Two days ago, Trump tweeted that he had instructed his aides to stop negotiating with Pelosi on a pandemic aid package. But then hours later, Trump called on Congress to pass piecemeal measures like aid for the airline industry, an additional round of stimulus checks and additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses.
When asked during a Bloomberg TV interview on Thursday if she believed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had the authority to negotiate a coronavirus relief package on Trump’s behalf, Pelosi said, “The president is, shall we say, in an altered state right now.”
“There are those who say when you are on steroids and, or if you have COVID-19 or both, that there may be some impairment of judgment. But, again, that is for the doctors and the scientists to determine,” Pelosi added.
Trump was hospitalized at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from Friday to Monday and received numerous therapeutics to treat COVID-19. He was also, at times, placed on supplemental oxygen.
Trump has released numerous videos recently stating that he is feeling better. He said Thursday morning in an interview on Fox Business that “I feel perfect. There’s nothing wrong.”
At least 34 White House staffers and other contacts have been infected with COVID-19 in recent days, including several who attended a White House ceremony announcing Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, on Sept. 26.
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