House Democrats’ new bill on the 25th Amendment, explained

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., unveiled a bill Oct. 9 to establish a commission that could be tasked with determining if a president is no longer fit for office.

The bill from Raskin, a former constitutional scholar, comes on the heels of President Donald Trump’s Oct. 2 announcement of his positive COVID-19 test. The bill would create what would be known as the ‘‘Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of the Office” in accordance with the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.

The commission would not have the unilateral power to invoke the 25th Amendment and kick Trump or any future president out of the White House. Pelosi and Raskin insisted in a press conference that the move was unrelated to the election less than a month away. 

“This is not about President Trump,” said Pelosi. “He will face the judgment of the voters. But he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents.”

Trump responded to the news by tweeting that Pelosi is angling to one day replace Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris. There is no factual basis to support that claim, and Pelosi would not sit on the commission the bill would create.

The Constitution allows for such a commission

The 25th Amendment, established in 1967 after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, spelled out general procedures to guide the replacement of a president or vice president in the event of death, incapacitation, resignation or removal from office. 

RELATED: What happens if a president or nominee dies or is incapacitated? Around elections, it gets thorny

The first three sections of the amendment lay out the succession plan for when these top two positions go vacant. They also allow the president to declare himself unable to carry out his duties and temporarily transfer the powers of the presidency to the vice president.

The fourth and final section is what’s relevant to Raskin’s bill. The section authorizes the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet, or “of such other body as Congress may by law provide,” to declare a president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

“Legislation like this is provided for in §4,” tweeted Brian Kalt, a law professor at Michigan State University and the author of a book on the provision. “It says that the VP and Cabinet invoke §4, but that Congress can legislate a different body to substitute for the Cabinet in that process.”

“It gave Congress the power to replace the Cabinet with ‘such other body’ as it might create by law,” added Joel K. Goldstein, a professor of law emeritus at St. Louis University and the author of two

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Can Pelosi Invoke 25th Amendment To Remove Trump From White House? What The Law States, How It’s Implemented

KEY POINTS

  • President Trump has been given two experimental treatments and a powerful steroid to treat COVID-19
  • Pelosi questioned Trump’s recent behavior, saying he appears to be in an “altered state”
  • Trump responded, calling Pelosi crazy

Democratic lawmakers say they are concerned about President Donald Trump’s mental state following treatment for COVID-19 and introduced legislation Friday to create a commission to determine if the president is fit for office under the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The discussion comes just 24 days before the Nov.3 election.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said there never has been a good time to set up the commission but the current situation has focused everyone’s attention.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denied this is just another attempt by Democrats to go around the voting process.

“This is not about President Trump. He will face the judgment of voters. But he shows the need to create a process for future presidents,” Pelosi said.

The 25th Amendment was ratified in 1967 to clarify the process, and though it calls for such a commission, one never was set up.

Historically, the practice has been for the vice president to succeed to the nation’s highest office, if the president was out of the picture.

George H.W. Bush became acting president in July 1985 while Ronald Reagan underwent a colonoscopy, but not when Reagan was shot in 1981. Richard Cheney became acting president in June 2002 and July 2007 while George W. Bush underwent colonoscopies. In all three cases, the president sent letters to the speaker of the House and president pro tem of the Senate, making the appointments. Subsequent letters then were submitted rescinding the appointments.

The last time a vice president succeeded to the presidency due to the death of a president was 1963 when Lyndon Johnson became president after John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

If the vice president and majority of the president’s cabinet determine the president is unable to perform the duties of office, they can issue a declaration and transfer power to the vice president.

Pelosi Thursday said the president appears to be “in an altered state right now,” citing the powerful steroid dexamethasone he was prescribed to treat COVID-19. The steroid is known for causing aggression, irritability and interference with thought processes. She also mentioned Trump bragging about the medications he was given, all of which still are undergoing evaluation.

Trump responded by calling Pelosi crazy.

Pelosi cited Trump’s tweet Tuesday ordering an end to stimulus negotiations while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted he had stopped going to the White House in August because he was dissatisfied with the precautions being taken against spread of the coronavirus.

This is not the first time invoking the 25th Amendment has come up during Trump’s presidency. The New York Times reported former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested it two years ago during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The order of succession is laid out by the Presidential Succession Act of 1947:

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Trump returns to White House, state GOP files lawsuit against Pritzker tax amendment and the return of Dark Lord imperial stout



a bottle of wine on a table: Three Floyds Brewing in Munster, Ind. will release its coveted Dark Lord imperial stout via touch-free pick up this fall instead of at its usual Dark Lord Day festival in the spring.


© Gregg Gearhart / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Three Floyds Brewing in Munster, Ind. will release its coveted Dark Lord imperial stout via touch-free pick up this fall instead of at its usual Dark Lord Day festival in the spring.

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a man talking on a cell phone: Cubs President Theo Epstein talks with GM Jed Hoyer and manager David Ross before a game against the White Sox on Sept. 25, 2020, at Guaranteed Rate Field.


© John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Cubs President Theo Epstein talks with GM Jed Hoyer and manager David Ross before a game against the White Sox on Sept. 25, 2020, at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Good morning, Chicago. Illinois public health officials reported Monday 1,853 new known coronavirus cases and 14 additional confirmed deaths. In Chicago, the positivity rate has increased over the last three days: it’s now at 4.4%.

Meanwhile, the CDC updated to its COVID-19 guidelines to say the virus can spread more than 6 feet through the air. Some experts said the updated guidance isn’t enough — here’s why.

Also, a Chicago-area study showed that nearly one-third of coronavirus patients experienced some type of altered state. The neurological symptoms identified ranged from confusion to delirium to unresponsiveness.

Here’s more coronavirus news and other top stories you need to know to start your day.

Trump, after receiving unprecedented level of care, downplays COVID-19 threat and returns to White House — without a mask

President Donald Trump staged a dramatic return to the White House Monday night after leaving the military hospital where he was receiving an unprecedented level of care for COVID-19. He immediately ignited a new controversy by declaring that despite his illness the nation should not fear the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans — and then he entered the White House without a protective mask.



a man standing next to a tree: Scott Sheridan, a tenured professor of French and Italian at Illinois Wesleyan University, is losing his job as the school eliminates many offerings in the humanities.


© Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Scott Sheridan, a tenured professor of French and Italian at Illinois Wesleyan University, is losing his job as the school eliminates many offerings in the humanities.

Trump’s message alarmed infectious disease experts and suggested the president’s own illness had not caused him to rethink his often-cavalier attitude toward the disease, which has also infected the first lady and several White House aides, including new cases revealed on Monday.

GOP-aligned group files lawsuit challenging ballot language on Pritzker’s graduated-rate income tax amendment

The Illinois Policy Institute, a GOP-aligned group opposed to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s graduated-rate income tax plan, filed a lawsuit suit Monday contending the explanation of the proposed state constitutional amendment sent to voters was “misleading” and needs court-ordered clarification.



J.B. Pritzker wearing a suit and tie: Gov. J.B. Pritzker holds a news conference at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago on Sept. 22, 2020.


© E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Gov. J.B. Pritzker holds a news conference at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago on Sept. 22, 2020.

The Pritzker-backed Vote Yes for Fairness group backing the proposed amendment called the lawsuit “frivolous” and said it was simply an attempt to gain attention to efforts to

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House Republican introduces amendment to include farm aid in stopgap funding bill



Mike Conaway wearing a suit and tie: House Republican introduces amendment to include farm aid in stopgap funding bill


© Greg Nash
House Republican introduces amendment to include farm aid in stopgap funding bill

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, on Monday introduced an amendment to a stopgap government funding measure that would provide farm aid and extend child nutritional assistance during the coronavirus pandemic.

House Democrats earlier Monday introduced a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funding through Dec. 11.

Negotiators aimed to release a bipartisan stopgap bill on Friday, but talks collapsed after the parties were unable to reach an agreement on whether a provision to provide additional payments to farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), which is capped at a borrowing limit of $30 billion, should be included.

House Democrats ultimately opted to omit the language to provide more funding to CCC on Monday, a move that sparked strong backlash from Republicans in both chambers and leaving just over a week to come to an agreement and avoid a damaging government shutdown.

Conaway’s amendment would change the bill to include language to “reimburse the Commodity Credit Corporation for net realized losses sustained” and extend the increase in child food benefits through 2021.

“This amendment is simple and straightforward. It reflects the bipartisan agreement that was reached last week, and then reneged on by the Democratic leadership on Friday. My amendment replenishes the CCC, the Commodity Credit Corporation, and provides pandemic funding increases for SNAP,” Conaway said during a House Rules Committee mark up following the bill’s release.

“Up until recently, the CCC has been replenished on a bipartisan basis, without controversy. But once again, Democrat leadership has upended this long-standing practice, and I have no real idea why. Democrat leaders are mad at the Trump administration, because they’ve used the CCC dollars to provide trade aid to farmers or ranchers and dairy producers hurt by China, and apparently now the Democrats are mad that the administration is providing CCC dollars to help farmers or ranchers and dairy producers hurt by COVID-19.”

Democrats, however, argue a sweeping Democrat-led relief package that passed the House in May provided relief for farmers that have taken a financial hit as a result of the pandemic and allege the administration is using the funding for political gain.

“What the Trump Administration wanted added to the clean CR wasn’t help for farmers – it was more than $20 billion more taxpayer dollars that the Trump Administration views as a bottomless, unaccountable political slush fund,” one senior Democratic aide said.

Republicans have indicated that the Democrat-led bill faces an uphill battle without the CCC language. Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to avert a government shutdown, and the showdown over the bill comes just weeks ahead of election day.

“House Democrats’ rough draft of a government funding bill shamefully leaves out key relief and support that American farmers need. This is no time to add insult to injury and defund help for farmers and rural America,” Senate Majority Leader

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WH cites 1st Amendment in defending Trump rallies that flout COVID restrictions

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday defended President Donald Trump’s crowded rallies that contradict local COVID-19 rules and his own administration’s health guidance — saying supporters are exercising their First Amendment rights.



a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Supporters cheer as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at Smith Reynolds Regional Airport in Winston-Salem, N.C., Sept. 8, 2020.


© Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Supporters cheer as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at Smith Reynolds Regional Airport in Winston-Salem, N.C., Sept. 8, 2020.

She argued there is a double-standard when it comes to allowing crowds at protests — hours before the Trump campaign announced airport hangar rallies in Nevada planned for this weekend have been cancelled.

After touting the president’s coronavirus response in North Carolina, a reporter asked McEnany at an afternoon White House briefing why the president chose to host a rally there with thousands of people, many not wearing masks, on Tuesday night when the state has limited its outdoor gatherings to 50 people and mandated masks in public.

MORE: Trump admitted he deliberately played down coronavirus threat: Reports

“People have a First Amendment right if they so choose to show up and express their political opinion in the form of a peaceful protest which is what the president has held and there is a real double standard here,” McEnany said.



a person holding a sign: White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 9, 2020.


© Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 9, 2020.

“CNN had on a guest, apparently a doctor, Rob Davidson, who said, ‘Now, true, there are social distancing issues with regard to the protests around the country. However, this is a public health crisis. They are marching against systemic racism.’ So if you’re allowed to march in aggregate in those protests, you are also allowed to show up at a political rally. You have a First Amendment right in this country,” she continued.

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Shortly after the briefing, the Trump campaign announced its airport hangar rallies scheduled in Nevada this weekend had been cancelled, which presumably would have flouted the state’s COVID-19 restrictions limiting public gatherings to 50 people, and said that Trump would instead still hold other events in the state.

The Trump campaign said 15,000 supporters showed up at its airport-hanger rally on Tuesday night, and most attendees were packed together and not wearing masks, despite the state’s restrictions that outdoor gathering shouldn’t exceed 50 persons.

MORE: Coronavirus news: University imposes quarantine for all students

The White House coronavirus task force recently identified North Carolina as having the 18th highest rate of cases in the U.S. and recommended enforced social distancing and mask mandates — but McEnany vehemently defended the gathering on Wednesday.

“If people want to show up and express their political views, that’s their choice to do so. We hand out masks, we encourage the individuals to wear those masks. A lot of people did, I was in North Carolina last night and saw it. We give out hand sanitizer. But at the end of the day, if you want to join a

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