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Pelosi eyes creation of panel to determine a president’s fitness to serve

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jamie Raskin unveiled a bill Friday that would create a standing committee to evaluate the mental or physical capacity of any sitting president.

They said the legislation was not intended to remove the current president from office before the election, but to set out a process stemming from the 25th Amendment.

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

“This isn’t about any judgment that anybody has about someone’s behavior. This is about a diagnosis,” she added.

The 25th Amendment provides for the transfer of presidential power in the case of removal from office, death, or disability. Congress, the president’s cabinet, and the vice president have the power to remove a president unable to serve, but it would take a 2/3 vote in both chambers to be implemented.

This bill would address Congress’ authority, by creating a bipartisan, bicameral 17-member committee to review the president’s ability to fulfill the duties of the office — and to ensure a smooth transfer of power in drastic situations.

Mr. Raskin, Maryland Democrat, said this legislation was particularly important in the age of COVID-19, which has infected several members of government, including Mr. Trump.

“When I found that the body had never been set up and I guess the reason is that there’s never really a good time to do it, because its always seen in its local circumstance as opposed to the need to have this institutionally,” Mr. Raskin said. “The situation has focused everybody’s mind on the need for following through on this suggestion in the 25th Amendment.”

The proposal has no chance of being enacted as it would have to be passed by the GOP-controlled Senate and then signed into law by the president himself.

In recent days, Mrs. Pelosi has repeatedly questioned the president’s mental health given his coronavirus diagnosis but said it wasn’t her place to determine if the 25th Amendment was appropriate.

“What I said about the president and the drugs was there are those who believe taking certain medications can affect [your] judgment. I don’t know,” she said.

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Where You Live at 50 Could Determine Life Expectancy


One explanation: “Counties with a higher percentage of residents of color could also have a higher number of segregated neighborhoods and communities,” and segregated communities can concentrate poverty, the report points out, further restricting access to quality schools, safe parks, good jobs, and banks and capital for business development. Chronic stress from systemic racism and discrimination in health care have also put predominantly Black communities at a disadvantage when it comes to life expectancy.

“Evidence is clear that counties with more Black residents are having worse outcomes, and it’s incumbent on all of us to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to live a longer and healthier life,” Tan says.

“Those extra years are another anniversary, potentially another grandchild — that’s what people are missing out on.”

The coronavirus pandemic and life expectancy

Though the data in the report predates the coronavirus pandemic, Tan says COVID-19 — which has taken an especially heavy toll on adults 50 and older — has the potential to further exacerbate life expectancy disparities at midlife.

For example, COVID-19 hospitalization rates for Black, Hispanic and Native Americans is nearly five times as high as for white Americans, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Blacks are also over twice as likely to die from a coronavirus infection as whites.


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