U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger became the first Congressional Republican Thursday morning to call for President Donald Trump’s removal in the wake of Wednesday’s breach of the U.S. Capitol.
Kinzinger – unlike U.S. Reps. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, and Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove – is not calling for impeachment. Instead, he said the 25th Amendment should be used.
“All indications are that the president has become unmoored not just from his duty, or even his oath, but reality itself,” Kinzinger said in a video released Thursday on Twitter.
Who starts the process?
The 25th Amendment can be invoked by the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet by sending a written declaration “that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” to the leaders of the Senate and House. Once that is done, the vice president immediately becomes the acting president.
With impeachment, the process is started in the U.S. House of Representatives where articles of impeachment are drawn up following an investigation by the House Judiciary Committee to be voted on by the full House.
Why is it done?
The 25th Amendment is to be done when the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” The amendment also addresses who becomes president if the sitting president dies.
Impeachment is a way of removing the president, vice president and all federal civil officers from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
How does it work?
After the 25th Amendment is invoked, the president can take back the powers and duties of the office by also sending a written declaration to the Senate President pro tempore and House Speaker. The vice president and the Cabinet can attempt to block this.
Should that happen, Congress is tasked with deciding the issue. It is required to assemble within 48 hours if not already in session, and it would take a two-thirds majority of both houses to keep the vice president as acting president.
If Congress does not make a decision within 21 days, the president would resume the powers and duties of his office.
With impeachment, after the House votes on articles of impeachment, the process moves to the Senate where a two-thirds vote of members present is required to convict.
Has it been done before?
The 25th Amendment, which was ratified in 1967 after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, has been used a handful times, though Section 4 – the section that would be used to remove the president without his consent – has not.
Two presidents – George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan – have used the 25th Amendment to temporarily transfer the powers of the presidency to the vice president during surgeries and other medical procedures.
Three presidents have been impeached but none convicted. The most recent was Trump, who was accused in the articles of impeachment of attempting to pressure the Ukrainian government into opening investigations Joe Biden, as well as obstruction of Congress.