Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., has said for a while that the current system for ousting a president needs to be changed. But the change he’s requesting isn’t very popular.
Blumenauer introduced a bill on Friday to set up an “alternative body” that can “transmit a written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” The text for the bill is not yet available, but according to the Hill that body would consist of former presidents and vice presidents of both parties, along with the sitting vice president.
Blumenauer has been saying for a while that the current process for removing the president is flawed. That process, detailed under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, states a majority of the vice president and the president’s Cabinet must agree the president is unable to discharge the duties of the office. If the president agrees, the vice president assumes the presidency. If the president disagrees, the vice president and the Cabinet have to again communicate to Congress that the president is unfit, and then a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate have to vote to impeach the president.
In an op-ed to the Oregonian, Blumenauer argued it was unrealistic to expect the Cabinet to oust the president, given the inherent conflicts of interest.
“The amendment’s default decision-makers – the vice president and the Cabinet – have a natural bias toward the existing officeholder that would make them reluctant to acknowledge the president’s inability to serve,” Blumenauer wrote. “Additionally, in the case of a president who is suffering from mental illness and is emotionally unstable or irrational, there is no fail safe to prevent him or her from simply firing the entire Cabinet to prevent the application of the amendment.”
Blumenauer also did not hide that his motivation behind the proposal was a lack of faith in President Donald Trump specifically.
“The erratic behavior of Donald Trump has raised new questions about his mental and emotional capacity to discharge the tremendous burdens of the most powerful position in the world. It is the president who has the ability to launch nuclear weapons, unleashing untold devastation on the world,” he wrote in February. “Presidents can create diplomatic chaos or move markets with the most carefully crafted declarations, let alone late-night tweets with the grammar and misspellings of a fifth-grader and decidedly unpresidential tone.”
Both Democrat and Republican Twitter users were fairly unanimous in their assessment: bad idea.