• What is the 25th Amendment and how does it work?

    By: Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, has introduced a bill to establish an independent commission on presidential capacity.

    The bill would allow Congress to “guarantee the security of the nation and effectiveness of government when serious concerns have been raised about the president’s ability to execute the responsibilities of the office.”

    Raskin referenced the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution in the bill, which asks for the creation of a congressional body “to determine presidential fitness.”

    The 25th Amendment to the Constitution has gotten a lot of press recently. In fact, one of the most googled sentences in the past three months has been the question, “What is the 25th Amendment?”

    Most recently, Trump has come under intense fire after tweeting insults at television hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzazinski, in which he criticized their intelligence Brzasinski’s appearance.

    On July 2, Trump tweeted a video that depicts him in a WWE arena, body slamming an individual with the CNN logo superimposed over his head. 

    These two episodes have increased calls for the 25th Amendment to be invoked. The clause has never been invoked in the 50 years since the amendment was adopted on Feb. 10, 1967. 

    The 25th Amendment outlines the presidential line of succession, or who becomes president should the president become disabled, resign or be removed from office. 

    The interest in the amendment started soon after the presidential election in November and first spiked in February around the time that Michael Flynn was fired as national security adviser.

    A story from Business Insider suggests the increased interest rests with those who oppose the president and have discovered the fourth clause of the document. They see it as a way to remove President Donald Trump from office.

    That clause states “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.”

    In short, the clause means that Vice President Mike Pence along with 13 of the 24 members of the Cabinet could decide the president is unable to do his job and remove him from office. In that case, Pence would become president. 

    A president can fight such a move by a vice president and send the decision on removal to a vote in Congress.

    So, what would happen if President Trump were to resign, become disabled or be removed from office? Who would become president? Here’s the line of succession for the presidency of the United States and the people currently in those positions.

    1. Vice President Mike Pence (R)
    2. Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan (R)
    3. President pro tempore of the Senate Orrin Hatch (R)
    4. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R)
    5. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin (R)
    6. Secretary of Defense James Mattis (I)
    7. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R)
    8. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke (R)
    9. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue (R)
    10. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (R)
    11. Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta (R)
    12. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price (R)
    13. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson (R)
    * Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao (R) (Chao is not a natural-born U.S. citizen so she could not become president.
    14. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry (R)
    15. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (R)
    16. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin (I)
    17. Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly (I)

    President Donald Trump talks with Vice President Mike Pence before speaking at the 36th Annual National Peace Officers' memorial service, Monday, May 15. 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
    AP Photo/Evan Vucci

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