Dems unveil bill creating panel on incapacitated presidents

The Democrats, in the U.S. House of Representatives, said their legislation would activate a long-ignored provision of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1967, empowering Congress to create such a commission.

Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin, the bill's sponsor, said the 17-member commission would be made up of eight medical personnel, eight former executive-branch officials and a 17th member chosen by the group.

"What happens if a president, any president, ends up in a coma or on a ventilator and has made no provisions for the temporary transfer of power," Raskin said in urging that Congress pass his legislation next year.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, was quick to say "this is not about President Trump," but about future presidents, which could include Trump if he wins a second four-year term in a Nov. 3 election.

Pelosi has raised experts' concerns that some of the drugs Trump took to battle his COVID-19 symptoms could cloud a person's judgment.

The 25th Amendment, sparked by the 1963 assassination of President John Kennedy, establishes the transfer of presidential power if a president or vice president dies or is incapacitated.

Video Transcript

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: This is not about President Trump. He will face the judgment of the voters. But he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents. The 25th Amendment creates a path for preserving stability if a president suffers a crippling physical or mental problem and is, quote, in the Amendment, "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office," and transfers his powers.

REPRESENTATIVE JAMIE RASKIN: The situation has focused everybody's mind on the need for following through on this suggestion in the 25th Amendment that Congress set up its own body. And I think, again, in the age of COVID-19, where a lot of government actors have been afflicted by it, we need to act.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: It's not about any of us making a judgment about the president's well-being. It's about this respected, bipartisan-- both aspects of it, the medical side of it and the dignitary statesmen side of it, are selected equally. So that we would like to have it in place, and it could be said for future presidencies. If the president wins this election, yes, it would apply to him. If he doesn't, it will apply to the next president of the United States.

But this isn't about anything to say we've got to do something like this about the election. It's not about the election at all. It isn't about any of us making a decision as to whether the 25th Amendment should be invoked. That's totally not the point. That's not up to us that's not up to us.