Citing 25th Amendment, Pelosi, Raskin move to create panel that could rule on president’s fitness for office

The 25th Amendment formalizes that the vice president takes over the duties of the presidency in the event of a president’s death, inability to perform his duties or resignation from office. It also lays out a process by which a sitting president may be removed from office. Congress’s role in this, however, is limited.

President Trump’s four-day hospitalization at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after contracting the novel coronavirus forced the administration to answer questions about the 25th Amendment and succession.

Administration officials said Trump remained on the job despite his hospitalization for covid-19 and there were no plans for Vice President Pence to assume even temporary authority as president. Trump returned to the White House Monday evening.

Pelosi, who as speaker is second in line to the presidency, previewed the move on Thursday, telling reporters that she would discuss the 25th Amendment to the Constitution on Friday. She did not elaborate.

“Tomorrow, by the way, tomorrow, come here tomorrow,” Pelosi abruptly told reporters at her weekly news conference, during which she mainly spoke about the need for a new round of coronavirus economic relief. “We’re going to be talking about the 25th Amendment.”

Asked toward the end of her news conference whether she could give more details, Pelosi only reiterated her call for reporters to return Friday.

Raskin introduced a similar measure in 2017 that would establish a congressionally appointed commission of physicians and top leaders who could evaluate the president’s health — both mental and physical — and work with the vice president on a transfer of power.

At the time, the Maryland Democrat said the move was necessary because Trump had “thrown our country into chaos at every turn” since his inauguration that January.

“For the security of our people and the safety of the Republic, we need to set up the ‘body’ called for in the 25th Amendment,” Raskin said in 2017. “The president can fire his entire Cabinet for asking the same question tens of millions of Americans are asking at their dinner tables, but he cannot fire Congress or the expert body we set up under the Constitution.”

Since Trump’s discharge Monday, some Democrats have voiced concern about the potential side effects of his medical treatment.

During an interview Wednesday on ABC News’s “The View,” Pelosi suggested that Trump’s covid-19 medications, which include steroids, may be having an effect on his mental capabilities.

“I said yesterday to my colleagues, I said there are those who say that the steroids had an impact on people’s thinking. I don’t know, but there are those health-care providers who say that,” Pelosi said Wednesday. “Also, if you have the coronavirus, it has an impact, as well.”

Under the 25th Amendment, a president could be declared “disabled” and involuntarily removed from office by joint agreement of the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet, something that has never happened.

In an event with the 92nd Street Y on Tuesday, Pelosi dismissed any suggestion of the 25th Amendment

Nevada Halts Use of Rapid Coronavirus Tests in Nursing Homes, Citing Inaccuracies

Kristen Cardillo, BD’s vice president of global communication, said the company was aware of the situation in Nevada and was “conducting thorough investigations.” She added that “based on the information in the directive and the total tests performed, we believe the rate of reported false positives is well within what we would expect for the BD Veritor System.”

Representatives for the Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to requests for comment.

Concerns have also been raised about the ability of antigen tests to accurately pinpoint infections, especially if administered during a period when a person harbors low levels of the coronavirus. BD’s test is advertised as having a false negative rate of 16 percent. Quidel’s is just above 3 percent. The directive from Nevada’s department of health did not report whether the negative antigen test results from nursing homes — there were nearly 3,700 such results — had been confirmed by P.C.R.

In a call with LeadingAge members on Monday, Adm. Brett Giroir, who has been leading the nation’s testing efforts, said antigen tests were “clearly a lifesaving option,” and for many facilities the best test available, given the delays, expenses and shortages that had plagued P.C.R. tests.

“It is perfectly acceptable for congregate care, particularly nursing homes, to use an antigen test, even if they are, quote, off-label,” Dr. Giroir said in the interview. “Just because they don’t have an authorization doesn’t mean they’re not good for it.”

In response to questions about false positives, Dr. Giroir reminded LeadingAge members that in places where the coronavirus is scarce, false positives should be expected to outnumber true positives and do not necessarily invalidate the usefulness of a test. “That’s a function of the way life is,” Dr. Giroir said.

The halt to antigen testing in Nevada’s nursing homes comes just days after health experts criticized the White House, which is now in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak, for a misguided overreliance on rapid testing. For months, officials used two products made by Abbott Laboratories, the ID NOW and the BinaxNOW, to test people without symptoms — another off-label use — while eschewing masks and physical distancing. In September, the White House also began distributing millions of BinaxNOW tests to communities across the country, including nursing homes around the country.

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