A couple of top-ranking House Democrats rolled out legislation Friday that would give a commission of psychiatrists and former government officials the power to decide whether a president is mentally unfit for office — but they insisted the extraordinary measure isn’t a potshot at Donald Trump.
Introducing the bill at a press conference on Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) sought to tone down the firestorm of controversy they stoked Thursday by teasing the measure as a first step in the presidential removal process granted under the fourth section of the 25th Amendment.
“This isn’t about any judgment anybody has about somebody’s behavior. This is about a diagnosis, a professional medical diagnosis,” Pelosi said. “This is not with bad intent.”
Raskin explained that the bill proposes to establish a commission of eight mental and medical health experts and eight former Cabinet officials who would be appointed evenly by Republican and Democratic leaders from both chambers of Congress.
The commission would conduct a review of a president’s “capacity” to hold office if both the House and the Senate approved resolutions to that effect.
Raskin and Pelosi stressed that the bill would not invoke or even recommend the invocation of the fourth section of the 25th Amendment, which allows for the temporary or permanent removal of a president on the grounds of mental or physical incapacity.
“It isn’t about any of us as to whether the 25th Amendment should be invoked,” Pelosi said. “That’s not up to us.”
The fourth section of the 25th Amendment can be activated if a vice president determines that the president is unfit for service.
The vice president needs either the majority of the president’s Cabinet to back him up in that assertion, or the majority of a specialized “body” set up by Congress. The commission proposed by Raskin and Pelosi is that “body.”
Raskin said the establishment of such a body has been a long time coming.
“We understand that in politics people point fingers back and forth, but the issues raised are of such gravity and central importance to the nature of our government that we’ve got to think of this in constitutional terms,” Raskin said. “Whether it is five months from now, five years from now, 50 years from now, whatever it might be … You know we’re living in an age of a lot of chaos.”
© 2020 New York Daily News
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.