opinion

OPINION: Democrats' support for bill involving 25th Amendment is a distraction from real issues



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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during a press conference on the introduction of legislation to establish a Commission on Presidential Capacity on Capitol Hill on Oct. 9 in Washington, D.C. Tribune News Service

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced support for legislation Oct. 9 that would allow Congress to establish a permanent commission that can be called upon by the vice president to judge a president’s ability to serve using the 25th Amendment. The amendment provides guidelines for replacement of a president in scenarios of death, removal, resignation or incapacitation. Pelosi supported this bill days after accusing President Donald Trump of being in an “altered state” because of his COVID-19 treatment.

The legislation has been the subject of much scrutiny from Republicans. Many accused Pelosi of using this as a way to remove Trump from office. Pelosi’s support for the legislation is simply a political move and not a true consideration of Trump’s health.

Originally introduced in 2017 by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-MD, the legislation seeks to establish a nonpartisan commission separate from the president’s cabinet with regards to the 25th Amendment. The commission would be composed of eight former executive officeholders and eight physicians and psychiatrists, all appointed by congressional leaders in both parties. The chair of the commission is selected by these 16 members.

The 25th Amendment includes language on dealing with a president who is deemed unfit to serve but won't relinquish their position. It allows for the vice president and either a majority of the cabinet or another group designated by Congress to temporarily remove the president from their role.

In relation to Raskin’s bill, the vice president would still have to initiate this process. This bill would finally create a commission that could have a role in determining the president unfit to serve.

Pelosi began supporting the proposed legislation before it was announced Trump fully recovered from COVID-19 on Sunday. It is unreasonable to continue to focus on the bill with the news of Trump’s recovery. But if news broke Trump was struggling with COVID-19 and his chances of recovery appeared slim, then this bill may have some value.

After stating Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis reminded her of the need for this commission, Pelosi began supporting it. Recent reports show Trump has tested negative and is not infectious to others. That should draw attention away from this bill and allow members of Congress to put it toward a stimulus bill and Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Trump’s health being a forefront concern in the House right now is a waste of time. A new stimulus bill was released from the White House that both Republicans and Democrats, including Pelosi, were not pleased with. 

The House passed a stimulus bill of their own in May and again Oct. 1, but it’s shown no signs of going anywhere since Republicans countered with two of their own. Both are less than Democrats’ minimum asking price of $2 trillion. The White House’s $1.8 trillion stimulus proposal was called “insufficient” and harmed ongoing negotiations, Pelosi said.

Clarifying language is still being waited on from the White House, but there is little faith from members of Congress any new stimulus bill will pass before Election Day. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, expressed doubt about any bill getting done soon. It is frustrating to see this pressing issue get nowhere while time is being spent on a bill that lacks immediate value.

The presentation of Raskin’s bill is blatantly partisan and beyond disappointing. The bill may establish a nonpartisan commission, but Republicans have made it clear they have no interest in supporting this legislation. The last thing America needs is more inaction in Congress. 

This proposed bill is clearly a political stunt and not a genuine consideration of Trump’s health. As a result, the American people pay the price because Congress fails to act on what they actually need.

Armando Bracco (he/him) is a freshman studying journalism. He is interested in politics and political reporting.

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