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The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Dems ruffle feathers with POTUS fitness bill

NEWS THIS MORNING

Oh this should go over well. Swimmingly, even!:

 

 

House Democrats unveiled a bill this morning to create a 17-member panel to assess the president’s “capacity” to perform the job. https://bit.ly/3iST44p

Is the panel designed just for Trump?: Well, the commission would be permanent but is definitely a shot at President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign raises over M on day of VP debate Trump chastises Whitmer for calling him ‘complicit’ in extremism associated with kidnapping scheme Trump says he hopes to hold rally Saturday despite recent COVID-19 diagnosis MORE, whose capacities have been questioned amid his coronavirus treatment.

Where Pelosi stands: “Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Trump says talks on COVID-19 aid are now ‘working out’ | Pelosi shoots down piecemeal approach | Democrats raise questions about Trump tax audits Trump retweets reporter saying 25th Amendment is not equivalent to a ‘coup’ Trump responds to Pelosi bringing up 25th Amendment: ‘Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation’ MORE (D-Calif.), a sharp critic of the president, has fueled those questions in the days since Trump returned to the White House after three nights in the hospital, floating the idea that Trump’s drug regimen — which includes a steroid linked to mood swings — might be affecting his decisionmaking.” 

Pelosi told reporters this morning: “This is not about President Trump; he will face the judgment of the voters. But he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents.” 

Reaction from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: Regeneron asks for emergency authorization of coronavirus treatment Trump received | McConnell says he hasn’t visited White House in two months due to coronavirus | Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums rise 4 percent McConnell says he hasn’t visited White House in two months due to coronavirus Human Rights Campaign unveils its congressional scorecard ahead of election MORE (R-Ky.): “Look, that’s absurd. Absolutely absurd. Again, right here in this last three weeks before the election, I think those kinds of wild comments should be largely discounted.”

Chances of a coronavirus relief bill before the election? Unlikely:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said a COVID-19 relief package passed before the Nov. 3 elections is “unlikely.” https://bit.ly/30R2dnF

In McConnell’s words: “I think the murkiness is a result of the proximity to the election, and everybody kind of trying to elbow for political advantage. I’d like to see us rise above that … but I think that’s unlikely in the next three weeks.”  

Back story: “Talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Trump says talks on COVID-19 aid are now ‘working out’ | Pelosi shoots down piecemeal approach | Democrats raise questions about Trump tax audits House Democrats to unveil bill to create commission on ‘presidential capacity’ Trump’s new Iran sanctions raise alarm over humanitarian access MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall

Dems introduce bill addressing president’s fitness

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Jamie Raskin are introducing a bill on Friday to form a commission that would rule on the president’s fitness for office in order to “enable Congress to help ensure effective and uninterrupted leadership” in the presidency.



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This panel, called the Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office, would be “the body and process called for in the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Pelosi and Raskin’s offices said in a statement on Thursday.

At the conference press conference announcing the bill on Friday morning, Pelosi insisted that the bill was not intended to determine President Trump’s fitness of office.

“This is not about President Trump. He will face the judgment of voters. But he shows the need to create a process for future presidents,” Pelosi said.

The 25th Amendment provides the procedure for the vice president to take over the duties of president in case of his death, resignation or inability to perform his duties. The amendment says that when the vice president and a majority either of Cabinet officials “or of such other body as Congress may by law provide” determine that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” then the vice president shall take over the duties of president.

“The 25th Amendment is all about the stability of the presidency and the continuity of the office,” Raskin said in the conference announcing the bill, noting that it was ratified on a bipartisan basis after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

“In the age of COVID-19, which has killed more than 210,000 Americans and now ravaged the White House staff, the wisdom of the 25th Amendment is clear,” Raskin continued, referring to the multiple White House officials who have tested positive for the virus. Raskin noted that the commission would be bipartisan, with members chosen by both Republicans and Democrats, and could only act in concert with the vice president.

Pelosi and Raskin’s introduction of the bill comes after President Trump was hospitalized over the weekend after testing positive for COVID-19, raising concerns about presidential succession. The White House said that Mr. Trump remained on the job even while he was at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and that there were no plans for Vice President Mike Pence to assume presidential authority. Mr. Trump returned to the White House on Monday, and returned to work at the Oval Office on Wednesday.

Raskin previously introduced a similar bill in 2017 to impanel a group of physicians and retired public officials to determine whether the president was mentally and physically fit for office.

“The 25th Amendment was adopted 50 years ago, but Congress has never set up the body it calls for to determine presidential fitness in the event of physical or psychological incapacity. Now is the time to do it,” Raskin said in a statement introducing the initial bill in May 2017.

Mr. Trump retweeted several

Texas Dems highlight health care in fight to flip state House

Texas Democrats are making health care the heart of their final pitch as they look to flip the state House, which Republicans have held since 2002.

In a “contract with Texas” that Democrats are rolling out Thursday and which was shared first with The Hill, the party is touting policies it would try to enact should it flip the net nine seats it needs to gain control of the chamber. The central pillar of the plan is expanding Medicaid in Texas, which has the highest number and rate of uninsured people in the nation, as well as boosting coverage for children and making care for women more equal. 

The party is betting that voters in the state who normally rank health care as a top issue will be even more receptive to messages around expanding coverage in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit the Lone Star State particularly hard. And after Democrats across the country won in a “blue wave” in 2018 fueled by promises to improve coverage, Texas Democrats are confident their strategy will work. 

“I think we have seen for a while now, before the pandemic, before any of us heard of coronavirus, that health care was a top-ranked issue, really across the country. Certainly in the 2018 elections, health care was a key issue that year,” said state Rep. Chris Turner, chair of the Texas House Democratic caucus. “But this year, with this pandemic, with the health care crisis that is affecting everyone, it’s just through the roof right now. People expect policymakers to address health care access.” 

The heart of the Democrats’ “Affordable Health Care for Every Texan” plan is providing coverage for 2.2 million more residents by expanding Medicaid, which the party says would also lower premiums and prescription drug prices for all Texans. Estimates from the party gauge that Texas would receive $110 billion in federal money over a decade if Medicaid is expanded. 

The plan also calls for expanding coverage for children by extending children’s Medicaid “through 12 months of continuous eligibility to align with [the Children’s Health Insurance Program].”

Lastly, Democrats look to bolster women’s health care by ensuring access to abortion — including by ensuring clinics that offer the procedure receive proper funding — and reducing maternal mortality rates, including bringing down the disproportionate rate at which Black mothers die during childbirth.

The party is also eyeing other health care-related legislation, including bills to strengthen protections for people with preexisting conditions if ObamaCare is repealed and ending surprise medical billing.

Texas Democrats have long lamented Republicans’ policies on health care in the state, including their refusal to expand Medicaid and work to curb abortion access, but indicate those efforts would face reenergized resistance if they win back the state House.

“Without the gavel, we haven’t been able to dictate the tone and tenor of what happens on the floor, so this time around we will be able to keep divisive and hurtful legislation off the floor and we’ll