House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) on Friday introduced proposed legislation to create a congressional body that would be charged with assessing a president's physical and mental capacity to serve — in the case of future presidents who, say, catch a deadly disease and seem to act erratically after taking a steroid.
"This is not about President Trump," Pelosi said at a morning press briefing. "He will face the judgment of the voters. But he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents."
While the creation of a Commission on Presidential Capacity is not likely to be debated on the floor of the House or the Senate anytime before the election, Pelosi and Raskin — who is a constitutional law professor — deemed this a necessary discussion to have this week and to get the public thinking about how the 25th Amendment would even work, in practice, if a president were unwilling to cede power and convinced of their own fitness.
As the Associated Press reports, Pelosi pointed to Trump's "strange tweet" this week that halted stimulus talks and sent the stock market tumbling, in addition to his other bizarre and aggro tweetstorms in which he claimed to be a "perfect physical specimen" and "very young," amid growing concern in the media that Trump's chosen doctor hasn't been entirely straight with the public about his condition.
"His disassociation from reality would be funny if it weren't so deadly," Pelosi said earlier this week.
The 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967, provides a framework for removing a president from office should she or he need to be discharged of their duties. The language of the amendment says, "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" a declaration to Congress that the president "is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his [sic] office." The commission being proposed in Raskin's legislation would this "such other body" that has not previously been established by Congress.
Pelosi said that members of the commission would be selected "in a bipartisan, bi-panel way."
The president, naturally, responded immediately this morning on Twitter saying, "Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation. They don’t call her Crazy for nothing."
The president seemed to reverse himself this week as he often does — likely after seeing the stock market drop — and said he wanted stimulus talks to resume. But currently there is a gap between Democrats' $2.2 trillion proposed package, and a $1.6 trillion counter offer proposed by the White House. Trump is primarily concerned with getting out more $1,200 checks to citizens before the election, however Democrats have insisted on a more sweeping package that includes money for more virus testing and contact tracing to combat the pandemic.
Below is video from Pelosi's Friday morning presentation.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images