Want to bet it’s about Trump if he wins re-election, though? As expected, Nancy Pelosi rolled out a new bill to establish a “Commission on Presidential Capacity,” a rehash of an effort made by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) at the beginning of Trump’s first term. Nonetheless, Pelosi tried arguing that Trump is only presenting the need for better congressional checks on presidential capacity, but that Trump “will face the judgment of the voters” rather than Congress.
For now, anyway. But Pelosi sure doesn’t mind suggesting that Trump’s incapacitated before they go to the polls:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday unveiled her plan to create a commission aimed at stripping President Trump of his presidential powers under the 25th Amendment.
“This legislation applies to future presidents but we are reminded of the necessity of action by the health of the current president,” Pelosi (D. Calif) said.
The bill would establish a Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office that would “enable Congress to help ensure effective and uninterrupted leadership in the highest office in the Executive Branch of government.
After yesterday’s trial balloon on this idea, the New York Post editorial board called it “coup coup nonsense.” That’s not quite accurate, but as they point out, neither is Pelosi’s insistence that it has nothing to do with Trump either:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says her team is “going to be talking about the 25th Amendment” on Friday — the latest in a long line of nutty Democratic fantasies of getting rid of President Trump.
Pelosi, who hasn’t actually talked to the prez in months, claims to think he’s mentally off thanks to his COVID-19 treatments (or something). Yet she’s only exposing (again) Democrats’ own Trump Derangement Syndrome, because this potential coup is an obvious non-starter.
Trump’s “disassociation from reality would be funny if it weren’t so deadly,” she claimed — just because he’s made his usual fast-changing threats and offers over the relief bill that Democrats have stalled in Congress.
Technically, Congress does have this authority, or could, assuming they can pass a bill to set up a “body” for that purpose. The 25th Amendment makes that authority explicit in Section 4, emphasis mine:
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, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
That body would have to be created by statute, though, and that requires agreement between the House, Senate, and the president. Even with that, though, the body would only be able to refer the matter to the two chambers of Congress, not execute a transfer of authority on its own. It still would require two-thirds majorities in both chambers to accomplish this transfer, and it could be forced to repeatedly vote on this if the president and/or the VP and Cabinet insist that the president is capable of handling his duties. As a “coup” instrument, impeachment and removal is a lot more reliable and final.
In theory, Congress should have more oversight over presidential capacity than it currently does. The example of Woodrow Wilson is one reason for having this clause in the Constitution, although it didn’t get added until John F. Kennedy’s assassination raised questions about precise qualifications on transfers of authority. In practice, it looks pretty fishy that this is coming up less than four weeks before a presidential election; why not just wait until the next session of Congress, regardless of who wins? Especially since there’s no legislative time available until after the election to even address this, let alone pass it. This is clearly just an electoral stunt by Pelosi, and nothing much more.
Everyone assumes this is all about Trump, of course, but what if it’s also about Biden? This looks like a handy tool for a Democrat-controlled Congress to use to push a slowed-down presidential nominee to the sidelines and install his younger and more progressive running mate into the White House. Donald Trump floated the same idea while I was finishing this post, in fact:
Naah — no one doubts that Kamala Harris will be running things in the next administration anyway. Better to have Biden as the figurehead for as long as he can hold out.
By the way, try to count how many times Pelosi touches the outside of her mask in a three-minute video. By now, she should know that’s a bad practice, and that a mask should fit over the nose … right? That also has been “determined by science and fact,” as is the lack of necessity for the mask while at the lectern in this instance.