Nancy Pelosi Calls For 17-Member 'Standing Committee' On Presidential Fitness

Update (1015ET): Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Raskin unveiled new legislation that would create a standing commission of lawmakers which would help Congress and the Vice President handle the invocation of the 25th amendment when the president isn't able to serve.

The proposed panel, called the Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office, would be "the body and process called for in the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution," Pelosi and Raskin's offices said in a joint statement.

Insisting that this is "not about Trump" (the voters will judge him imminently, Pelosi said), she nevertheless claimed that Trump's infection set off a "crisis" which has underlined just how critical this type of a commission is. She added that it would be

"This is not about Trump...but he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents."

The inspiration for the bill comes from Section  4 of the 25th Aamendment, which empowers Congress to set up an independent body to determine whether the president is fit to serve and help guide the VP to invoke the 25th amendment powers without the president's consent. 

Pelosi tried to make it sound like she and Raskin were merely trying to tie up an important loose end before the start of the next Congress.

"A president's fitness for office must be determined by science and facts" Pelosi said. "This legislation applies to future presidents. With this bill, Congress upholds it's resposibility to protect the Constitution and the people."

Rep. Raskin, a constitutional scholar said that the standing 25th amendment panel in Congress has never been set up before because it's a cumbersome process, but "in times of chaos, we must hold fast to the constitution." The 25th amendment was passed by overwhelming majorities, and added that "the 25th amendment is designed to guarantee the peaceful transfer of power in our government," Raskin argued.

"The 25th Amendment is all about the stability of the presidency and the continuity of the office," Raskin said, adding that the 25th Amendment was inspired by the assassination of JFK.

The law would establish a "16 member committee that could act in an emergency" with a 17th chosen by the group to act as its head.

Ultimtaely, the Commission would act alongside the Vice President, who is "the key actor" according to Raskin. They both tried to emphasize that the committee - which, again, wouldn't be set up until the next presidential term - would serve at the behest of the VP.

Asked about critics who are accusing her of going around the voters to try and depose Trump, Pelosi said that timing right now is imperative, and that it has "nothing to do with politics."

This panel, called the Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office, would be "the body and process called for in the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," Pelosi and Raskin's offices said in a statement on Thursday.

Raskin previously introduced a similar bill in 2017 to impanel a group of physicians and retired public officials to determine whether a president was mentally and physically fit to serve.

While refusing to directly comment on Trump's "fitness to serve", Pelosi repeatedly noted that he's "under the influence of medication" and that Trump appeared to be acting erratically.

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As she promised last night, Nancy Pelosi, along with Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, are expected to hold a press briefing at 1015ET to discuss a new bill that would wrest power to invoke the 25th Amendment away from Trump and his cabinet, and place it in the hands of Congress and the speaker.

Pelosi first ominously suggested that more would be said about the 25th amendment "tomorrow" during her Thursday morning weekly press briefing with reporters on Capitol Hill. A few hours later, her office emailed reporters advising them about a 1015ET press briefing involving the Speaker and Raskin to unveil a new plan related to triggering the 25th amendment.

The House and Senate will hold "pro forma sessions" at 1000ET, which essentially means, since Congress is currently out of session  whoever wants to can show up to hear Pelosi outline her "plan" to force President Trump to hand over power to Mike Pence, a move that would temporarily elevate her to Vice President. The briefing is supposed to start at 1015ET.

Rabobank pointed out in a note to clients published Friday morning that Pelosi's 25th amendment push is doomed to fail. Even if it passes the House, it will die in the Senate. And even if, by some miracle, it managed to pass the Senate and be signed by the president, it would only succeed in placing Pence in the top job for a few days, before Trump could self-certify his own fitness to serve.

Exhibit B: Nancy Pelosi will today push a bill to give the House, not the Cabinet, power to remove a president from office for medical reasons under the 25th amendment. A few quick comments:

1) Is this needed by a party up 14-16 points in the polls and three weeks away from a sweep of the White House, House, and Senate?;

2) It will not remove Trump from office. Even if passed in the Democrat-majority House, the bill requires passage in the Republican-majority Senate and a presidential signature – which won’t happen;

3) If it did, it would just put Mike Pence into office for a few days, after which Trump could self-certify himself fit to take over again, and over-ruling that would require a two thirds majority in both the House and the Senate;

4) The move is likely to fire up the base – but possibly the Republicans more as Trump is selling it as an "attempted coup"

Earlier, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnanay, who is still likely suffering from COVID-19, called in to Fox News to blast Pelosi's latest rerun of impeachment as "an absurd proposition".

Pelosi should use the 25th amendment to remove herself, McEnany claimed, not Trump.

The Speaker also made the cover of the New York Post.

Watch her comments live below: