The 25th Amendment’s Potential Impact on the US Government

The 25th Amendment was originally proposed by Congress after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It gives the leaders of our country the ability to replace the president or vice president in case of death, removal from office, resignation, or becoming too incapacitated to continue to serve. The US House of Representatives called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove President Trump from office after last week’s deadly Capitol riot that left 5 people dead, including one Capitol police officer.

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In a written response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Pence has refused to turn against Trump, stating “I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution. I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our nation.”

This morning, the House met to consider articles of impeachment against Trump after he incited an insurrection at the Capitol building last Wednesday. At least six House Republicans have confirmed they will vote in favor of Trump’s second impeachment. A simple majority of 218 House votes is needed to impeach him. If the article of impeachment is approved, Trump will become the first President in US history to be impeached twice. With just seven days left in his presidency, it remains unclear whether the articles of impeachment will lead to him actually being removed from office or not.

Regardless of Pence’s refusal, the 25th Amendment vote came through with 223 votes in favor of impeaching Trump. Congress is seeking to remove Trump from the White House before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20th. Today’s vote demonstrates that virtually all Democrats and some Republicans have condemned Trump’s actions. Now that the House has voted, the motion for impeachment moves to the Senate for a trial. The house must select representatives to act as prosecutors in the trial before the Senate, which acts as the jury. A two-thirds vote is required to convict. If Trump is convicted, he will be removed from office. But with less than 7 days left in his presidential term, impeachment seems unlikely.

One possible alternative to the 25th Amendment is the use of the 14th Amendment which allows Democrats to hold Trump accountable without support from Republican senators or Vice President Mike Pence. The 14th Amendment was ratified after the Civil War as a means to expel public officials who sided with Confederate insurrectionists over the union. Invoking the 14th Amendment is most likely the only way to prevent a president who contributed to a domestic terrorist attack from ever holding a public office again. Trump meets all the criteria for being permanently barred from office.

Lawmakers say bipartisan support of the articles of impeachment is highly unlikely. The major benefit of invoking the 14th Amendment instead of continuing down the path towards impeachment is that it allows Democrats to hold Trump accountable for his role in the terrorist attacks without relying on the support of Republicans or of Mike Pence.

Written by: Kelly Stewart