U.S. House Democrats are considering swiftly approving Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin’s legislation to activate a never-used section of the 25th Amendment under which President Donald Trump — or any unfit chief executive — could be removed from office.
Raskin’s legislation would create a congressionally appointed panel under the amendment to determine the fitness of the president to continue to hold power. The bill would not change the amendment, but rather establish a permanent, nonpartisan body that the amendment included more than 50 years ago but Congress never acted on.
Raskin, a Montgomery County Democrat who also represents parts of Carroll and Frederick counties, has introduced the bill in several previous sessions — it never passed — saying an independent commission is necessary so Congress can use its authority to provide a proper check on the president.
As of Friday, the bill had not yet been reintroduced. With momentum building among Democrats to force Trump’s ouster, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Friday that she hoped the president would immediately resign.
“But if he does not, I have instructed the Rules Committee to be prepared to move forward with Congressman Jamie Raskin’s 25th Amendment legislation and a motion for impeachment,” Pelosi said.
Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, confirmed to The Baltimore Sun that Pelosi was referring to the bill Raskin previously titled “The Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity Act.”
Since the bill was already written for previous congressional sessions, it’s “easy to reintroduce,” Hammill said.
In previous versions, Raskin — a former constitutional law professor — said the independent commission would include elder statespersons such as former presidents or attorneys general as well as physicians, and psychiatrists, all selected in a bipartisan way by congressional leadership.
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“My legislation does not mention Donald Trump,” Raskin told The Sun after introducing the measure a few years ago. “It would be an indefinite standing body. You’ve got people who are charged to act in a bipartisan way in the interest of national security. Presidential fitness is a matter of national security.”
Since invoking the 25th Amendment would require the participation of the vice president, Democrats have said impeachment may be necessary because Congress could do that on its own. Raskin, who is one of the impeachment leaders, tweeted Friday that Trump poses “a clear and present danger to the people and our Republic.”
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement Friday that “impeaching the President with just 12 days left in his term will only divide our country more.”
Trump’s fitness for office has been increasingly questioned since he encouraged a mob that violently stormed into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday causing a melee in which five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died.
Under the 25th Amendment, the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet can assert that the president is not fit to carry out his or her duties. A two-thirds vote in the House and Senate is required if the president resists.
Raskin has previously said the amendment did not intend to give so much power to Cabinet members who are often loyal to the president. Rather, he has said, a section of the amendment specifies that the vice president and a majority of “such other body as Congress may by law provide” can also make a determination about the president.
Raskin could not be reached for comment Friday about the legislation.