Virginia lawmakers join a growing chorus of federal lawmakers calling for Mike Pence to step in.
WASHINGTON DC- It’s time to make a change. Members of Virginia’s congressional delegation made that statement over the last 24 hours, calling for the 25th Amendment to be invoked. Rep. Donald McEachin was the first Virginia lawmaker to call for the change Wednesday. He said the riot at the Capitol couldn’t be overlooked.
“[The] violent riot at the US Capitol was a mob of sedition and insurrection, prompted, encouraged and incited by President Trump,” McEachin wrote in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence. “President Trump’s behavior today and his behavior since the legal, legitimate and fair election of Nov. 3, 2020 clearly has demonstrated that he either cannot or will not lead this country or govern this great nation.”
As a result, McEachin saw two paths forward.
“Either President Trump needs to be immediately impeached and convicted or the vice president and the Cabinet must invoke the 25th Amendment, remove President Trump from office and allow Vice President Pence to serve the remaining 14 days until Inauguration Day,” McEachin wrote.
On Thursday, both Virginia senators joined McEachin, saying it’s time to move on.
“The sun is up on a new day, but there must be accountability for yesterday,” Sen. Tim Kaine wrote in a statement. “The Cabinet should invoke the 25th Amendment against Trump. If he wants to challenge, Congress should vote him out. Congress should inform Trump that he is not welcome at the inauguration.”
Warner took it a bit farther.
“This president is unfit to remain in office for the next two weeks,” Warner wrote in a Twitter post. “Every minute he’s in power, he continues to be a threat to our security. It’s time for the 25th Amendment.”
What Does That Mean?
The three men join multiple senators and representatives in calling for Trump’s removal. Republicans and Democrats alike said through Twitter posts, statements to media and public comments that the 25th Amendment needs to be in play. But what exactly does that mean?
The amendment allows for the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare a president unfit for office. The vice president then becomes acting president. Section 4 specifically deals with involuntary removal, which is what this would be.
The vice president and a majority of Cabinet secretaries have to inform the Speaker of the House and Senate president in writing that they feel the president is unfit. At that point, the vice president temporarily takes over.
Now the president can fight it, by sending a letter of his own to the House and Senate. If that happens, Congress has to vote within 21 days. It takes a two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate to remove the president.
Why Was It Passed?
The concept came up after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. President Lyndon B. Johnson promised in his 1965 State of the Union to “propose laws to insure the necessary continuity of leadership should the President become disabled or die.” The amendment was passed by Congress that year and ratified in 1967.
Has anyone used it before? Well, yes and no. Yes, presidents gave up power willingly before. Those incidents were voluntary, however, usually when the president went in for surgery. However, Section 4 has never been used.
Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].