Chaos at the Capitol: What is the 25th Amendment?

25th Amendment: What you need to know

The 25th Amendment of the Constitution has never been used to remove a sitting president, but after Wednesday’s violence at the U.S. Capitol, spurred on by comments and conspiracy theories spread by President Donald Trump, some are calling for his removal using the 25th Amendment.

The National Association of Manufacturers said that Trump is responsible for what happened.

“This is sedition and should be treated as such,” Jay Timmons, the president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, told USA Today.

Content Continues Below

Timmons is joined by the head of the NAACP, Vermont’s Republican Gov. Phil Scott and others, the newspaper reported.

But what does the 25th Amendment actually say, and what would happen if it were used?

The 25th Amendment addresses what happens when a president can no longer fulfill his term.

It was passed by Congress on July 6, 1965, and ratified on Feb. 10, 1967.

Section 1 of the amendment addresses either the death or resignation of a president and his replacement by the vice president, with resignation allowing for the president to nominate a vice president, confirmed by a majority of both the House and Senate.

Section 3 addresses the president telling the president pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House in writing that he is not able to fulfill the duties of his office. The declaration can be reversed, also in writing.

However, it is Section 4 that is getting the attention after the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

Section 4 deals with the removal of the President or Vice President.

“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.

“Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days 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. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.”

This is not the first time the use of the 25th Amendment has been discussed in relation to Trump. In Sept. 2018, an op-ed was published in The New York Times calling Trump’s behavior into question.

The piece was penned by an anonymous senior official of the administration, whose identity was later revealed on Oc. 28, 2020. Miles Taylor was chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security. The New York Times confirmed he was the author of the article “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.”

In July 2017, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., 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.”