House passes measure calling on Pence to invoke 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office
WASHINGTON –The House of Representatives passed a nonbinding measure Tuesday night calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove President Donald Trump from office.
One Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, joined all Democrats in voting 223-205 to pass the largely symbolic measure. The nonbinding measure does not require Senate approval and Pence has said he won't invoke the amendment.
The measure’s passage comes as a growing number of Republican lawmakers came out in support of Trump’s impeachment. The third-ranking House Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said Tuesday she supported impeachment, and several Republican senators have signaled openness to removing Trump from office as well. Top House Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, were absent Tuesday as the chamber debated whether Trump should be removed from office by the 25th Amendment.
In the debate before the measure passed, Democrats outlined the terror they and others experienced last week and expressed a sense of duty in acting to both condemn and oust Trump in the aftermath. Democrats repeatedly noted the poor precedent it would send by not acting after a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the last several days a "dark week" but one that made clear every member of Congress' oath to uphold the country.
"The gleeful desecration of the Capitol and the violence against Congress our staff and our workers are horrors that will forever stain our nation's history," Pelosi said in a stern speech on the House floor. "The President's actions demonstrate his absolute inability to discharge the most basic and fundamental powers and duties of his office. Therefore, the president must be removed from office immediately. This is a decision we make with the utmost solemnity and prayerfulness, which this crisis requires."
Under the fourth section of the 25th Amendment, if the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet determine the president cannot fulfill their duties, then power is transferred to the vice president. The provision has never been used.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., highlighted the intense trauma after the attack on the U.S. Capitol and said his legislation calling on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment should be an easy vote for both sides of the aisle.
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"I think every member in this body should be able to agree that this President is not meeting the most minimal duties of office. He is not meeting the oath that he swore to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic," Raskin said. "He is not protecting the Republic against mob insurrection, invasion and hostility."
Raskin led the measure and was named head impeachment manager tonight in Trump's pending Senate trial should the House pass an article of impeachment Wednesday. He noted that the attack "desecrated the temple of democracy" and many more could have died in the incident.
Democrats have sought to oust Trump after a pro-Trump riot stormed the Capitol last Wednesday, leaving at least five people dead. Democrats allege Trump incited the riot through his calls to overturn election results and are also pursuing his impeachment for "incitement of insurrection."
The House is set to debate and vote on a single article of impeachment tomorrow charging Trump with inciting an insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
The resolution urges Pence to “convene and mobilize” the Cabinet to “declare what is obvious to a horrified nation” – that Trump is unable to serve as president.
But Pence will not invoke the 25th Amendment, he told Pelosi in a Tuesday letter. The vice president praised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top congressional leaders for their leadership, but told them invoking the 25th Amendment would not be "in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution.
Pence acknowledged pressure to intervene in the counting of election results, writing he did not "yield to pressure" last week to go beyond his authority in determining the outcome of the presidential election,
But despite Pence's opposition, House Republicans did not advise members to vote against the resolution, according to a House Republican aide speaking on condition of anonymity.
Republicans largely excused Trump's conduct last week, saying in speeches on the floor of the House – steps away from where a young woman was shot and killed just days earlier – that the House should be working on more important issues to bring the country together.
Many argued that taking on impeachment wasn't worth it since Trump is only in office for a few more days, while others asserted that invoking the 25th Amendment would violate the aim of its passage.
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., backed Trump on the House floor. He argued blaming Trump over his remarks to supporters that led to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol. "I've read that speech," McClintock said of Trump's remarks to supporters on Wednesday before they stormed the U.S. Capitol. "He never suggested rampaging the Capitol and disrupting the Congress. He urged them to, and this is an exact quote, 'peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.'"
McClintock also said the 25th Amendment was being used "as a political weapon" and said invoking it right now would set a bad precedent.
"The most important pillars of our governments: stability, the rule of law, and the separation of powers will fracture," McClintock argued over the precedent. "It won't affect this president, but it will stalk future presidents from this day forward. For their sake, please don't do this."
Rep. Jim Jordan, one of the president's closest allies in the House who helped lead the charge against his impeachment in 2019, called the actions of Democrats "scary," explaining this effort against Trump was just part of cancel culture and "canceling all the people you guys disagree with."