Blumenauer to Launch Working Group to Strengthen the 25th Amendment, providing for Presidential succession or removal

February 14, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Tomorrow, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) will announce plans to create a working group to clarify and strengthen the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He will deliver remarks on the House floor for Morning Hour at approximately 10:00 a.m. (ET).

“Like many people, I’ve noticed a renewed interest in the 25th Amendment as we’ve seen erratic behavior out of the White House. As I examined the Amendment, it became clear that in the case of mental or emotional incapacity, there is a glaring flaw,” Blumenauer said. “In the absence of Congressional action, the constitutional language depends on action by the cabinet who may be fired by the President, undermining this ostensible check on an unstable president. It’s time to revisit and strengthen the Amendment and make sure there is a reliable mechanism in place.”

This amendment, adopted 50 years ago in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination, provides a mechanism for the succession of the president for his or her replacement in the event he or she proves unfit to serve. Under the amendment, the vice president and a majority of either the cabinet or some “other body” designated by Congress, may remove the president from office.

While the language is straightforward, it raises a host of questions. In particular, the Amendment allows Congress to select some “other body” other than the cabinet to determine whether the president is capable of discharging the duties required, and remove him or her if necessary. Yet, this body is undefined, and there is no guidance for how it should operate. After examining the issue, Blumenauer believes living former presidents and vice presidents could constitute the body.

Blumenauer is creating a working group to explore these challenges and answer these questions. He will send a letter tomorrow inviting members of the U.S. House to participate and join this effort.