(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) has introduced the ‘Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity Act’ (H.R. 1987). This bill will allow Congress to guarantee the security of the nation and effectiveness of the government when serious concerns have been raised about the President’s ability to execute the responsibilities of the office. Raskin’s bill has 20 cosponsors.
Section 4 of the 25th Amendment empowers Congress to establish a permanent “body” that can declare that the President is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Raskin’s bill establishes this independent nonpartisan body: the Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity.
In emergency situations, Congress could pass a concurrent resolution requiring the Commission to examine the President, determine his/her ability to execute the powers and duties of the office, and report its findings to Congress. If presidential incapacity exists, the Vice President would immediately assume the role of Acting President.
“The 25th Amendment was adopted 50 years ago, but Congress has never set up the body it calls for to determine presidential fitness in the event of physical or psychological incapacity. Now is the time to do it,” said Raskin.
Ten members of the Commission would be selected by congressional leadership. The Speaker of the House, House Minority Leader, Senate Majority Leader, and Senate Minority Leader each select one physician and one psychiatrist to serve on the Commission. Additionally, each party selects a retired statesperson (e.g., former Presidents, Vice Presidents, Attorneys and Surgeons General, Secretaries of State, Defense, and Treasury) to serve. The 10 appointed members then select an 11th member, who acts as the Chair of the Commission.
Although Section 4 of the 25th Amendment has not been invoked yet, other provisions of the Amendment have been. For example, when Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush underwent medical procedures, they notified Congress and temporarily delegated presidential authority to their Vice Presidents.
Congressman Jamie Raskin represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, which includes Montgomery, Frederick, and Carroll counties. He is the Vice Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, a Senior Democratic Whip, and Freshman Representative to the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee. He also serves on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and the Committee on House Administration.