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Providing for Consideration of H. Res. Calling on Vice President Pence to Convene and Mobilize the Cabinet to Activate Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to Declare President Donald J. Trump Incapable of Executing the Duties of His Office; and for Other Purposes

Floor Speech

Date: Jan. 12, 2021
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. SCANLON. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House Resolution 38 and ask for its immediate consideration.

The Clerk read the resolution, as follows: H. Res. 38

Resolved, That upon adoption of this resolution it shall be in order without intervention of any point of order to consider in the House the resolution (H. Res. 21) calling on Vice President Michael R. Pence to convene and mobilize the principal officers of the executive departments of the Cabinet to activate section 4 of the 25th Amendment to declare President Donald J. Trump incapable of executing the duties of his office and to immediately exercise powers as acting President. The amendment to the preamble printed in the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution shall be considered as adopted. The resolution, as amended, shall be considered as read. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the resolution and preamble, as amended, to adoption without intervening motion or demand for division of the question except one hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on the Judiciary or their respective designees.

Sec. 2. The prohibition against personality in debate shall not apply during consideration of measures specified in section 3 of this resolution with respect to references to the President.

Sec. 3. The measures referred to in section 2 of this resolution are as follows: (a) House Resolution 21.

(b) Any special order of business providing for the consideration of House Resolution 24.

Sec. 4. (a) During a covered period designated pursuant to section 3(s) of House Resolution 8--

(1) the Sergeant-at-Arms is authorized and directed to impose a fine against a Member, Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner for the failure to wear a mask in contravention of the Speaker's announced policies of January 4, 2021; and

(2) a fine imposed pursuant to this section shall be treated as though imposed under clause 3(g) of rule II, and shall be administered as though pursuant to clause 4(d) of rule II, except that--

(A) the time periods described in clause 3(g)(3)(C) of rule II shall not commence until the Committee on Ethics has adopted written rules, and the chair of the Committee on Ethics shall notify all Members, Delegates, or the Resident Commissioner with pending appeals upon such commencement; and

(B) a fine subject to appeal under clause 3(g)(3) of rule II shall proceed unless dismissed within the time period provided under clause 3(g)(3)(C) of rule II.

(b) Subsection (a) establishes a standard of conduct within the meaning of clause 3(a)(2) of rule XI.


Ms. SCANLON. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. Cole), pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose of debate only. General Leave

Ms. SCANLON. Mr. Speaker, today the Rules Committee met and reported a closed rule, House Resolution 38, providing for consideration of House Resolution 21, calling on Vice President Michael R. Pence to convene and mobilize the principal officers of the executive departments of the Cabinet to activate section 4 of the 25th Amendment to declare President Donald J. Trump incapable of executing the duties of his office and to immediately exercise powers as acting President.

The rule provides 1 hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking member of the Committee on the Judiciary or a designee. The rule self-executes a manager's amendment by Chairman Nadler. The rule provides that the prohibition against engaging in personalities during debate, with respect to references to the President, shall not apply during consideration of House Resolution 21 or any special order of business relating to the impeachment of the President considered on January 13, 2021.

Finally, the rule authorizes and directs the Sergeant at Arms to impose a fine against a Member, Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner for the failure to wear a mask in contravention of the Speaker's announced policy on this subject for the duration of the pandemic.

Mr. Speaker, we are here today to debate the rule for House Resolution 21, a resolution calling for Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare President Donald Trump incapable of executing the duties of his office. We take this action solemnly and with grave concern for the safety and security of our Nation and its people, even in the final days of this President's administration.

Last Wednesday, a lawless mob breached this Chamber with the most evil and destructive intent. They were here to take the law into their own hands, to disrupt Congress as it counted the electoral college votes, and to overturn the lawful election of Joseph Biden as our 46th President.

As violent invaders broke windows and rammed doors, they chanted that they wanted to hang the Vice President and kidnap the Speaker of the House, and they brought the tools to do it. They beat one police officer to death, tased others, and tried to shoot one with his own gun. Another officer will likely lose an eye. Scores of others suffered head injuries when they were beaten with pipes. Blood was spilled on the marble floor just outside this room.

Members, staff, and reporters were forced to take cover under furniture and barricade themselves in rooms, clutching gas masks and fearing for their lives as the President's MAGA supporters chanted and raged nearby. Journalists were specifically targeted and beaten. Explosive devices were placed nearby to divert the police from protecting the Capitol.

This was not a peaceful protest. These were crimes against our country and the people who go to work every day on Capitol Hill. Just this afternoon, the FBI announced that it expects to charge hundreds of people with crimes ranging from simple trespass to conspiracy and sedition, to weapons offenses, to felony murder.

Crimes like this do not occur in a vacuum. They must be planned. They must be led.

The attack on the Capitol was incited by this administration. For months, they told their supporters that if they didn't win the election, the election was rigged. When the majority of American voters decided they had had enough of this chaos, they declared that the election had been stolen. The administration invited the President's most rabid supporters to come to D.C. on January 6 for a wild protest. Then the administration whipped them into a frenzy and sent the mob across town to attack the Capitol and disrupt the counting of electoral college votes. But it didn't end there.

The President reportedly watched with excitement as the news media began streaming images of the terror at the Capitol through electronic devices in America and around the world. The President tweeted that the Vice President had betrayed him. And even after the violence was apparent, the President and his lawyer placed calls to allies on Capitol Hill, trying to persuade them to prolong their objections to the counting of the electoral votes. What the administration didn't do for hours was to lift a finger to call off the mob or to rally support to defend the government, the historic monuments in the Capitol, the police, or especially the people under siege in the building. Members here in this Chamber know that, for hours, the President refused to return their calls begging for help.

Mr. Speaker, in the days since, the administration has continued to claim that the election was rigged. It has denied any responsibility for the riot, and praised the rioters, all while reports proliferate that the administration's supporters are planning more violence in the weeks ahead.

This is why this President remains a clear and present danger to the country, so long as he continues to serve. The reality is that we all-- even the most loyal political supporters--know that this President is unfit for office. Any other President with an ounce of character would have resigned after seeing the bloody consequences of the actions on Wednesday. Any other administration would have invoked the 25th Amendment long ago.

I don't care if a President incites a riot against Congress on his first day or the last day of his or her Presidency. Such an act is a crime against our government, much less against the people who are terrorized or killed in the attack. If a President can refuse to acknowledge the will of American voters, then incite a coup to stay in power without punishment, then our democracy is lost.

Mr. Speaker, that is why it is vital for Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to do the right thing--to invoke the 25th Amendment. Otherwise, this Congress must remove Donald Trump from office.

I have heard the calls for unity, and I agree that now is the time to come forward in unity, to defend our country, not to defend a man who has proven himself incompetent to occupy the office of the President for another day.

I am grateful to those Members of the Republican Party who agreed that the time has come to put loyalty to country above partisan considerations. And we welcome their support in taking whatever actions are necessary to end this chaos, to defend our government, and to protect the American people.

I also find the cries of partisanship by the President's remaining supporters to be unconvincing. The whole world watched in horror on January 6 as the administration encouraged a mob to attack the seat of our democracy to disrupt the election of Joseph R. Biden and then stood by as rioters sacked the Capitol.

Many civic leaders from both parties have condemned the President's actions and called for his removal. So, no, this is not partisan.

But I invite the President's supporters in Congress--no, I beg them-- to join the American people in holding this President accountable for the violence we experienced last week and to prevent further chaos in the days to come.

Before I conclude, I want to take a minute to give my deepest condolences to the families of the Capitol Police officers who died as a result of this attack. I want to thank the men and women of the Metropolitan and Capitol Police forces who valiantly defended both our democracy and the people who work on the Hill and wish a speedy recovery to the scores who were injured during the attack.

I also want to thank our tireless facilities and custodial staff for putting the building back together after terrorists violated it and the members of the press corps who have been so abused by this administration and were specifically targeted by this mob but continued documenting the attack so Americans could see what was really happening.

Lastly, I want to thank our staff across the Capitol for their bravery and dedication to public service. I want to thank them for the work they do every day but especially for their heroism in returning to the floor last Wednesday night to help us continue the electoral college vote count, and I thank them for being back here with us today. We are indebted to them for their service to our country.


Ms. SCANLON. Jackson Lee).

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, let me thank the gentlewoman from Pennsylvania for her leadership and my good friend from Oklahoma as well.

My friend from Oklahoma may be, in fact, accurate to the extent that the 25th Amendment stands on its own as actions that the Vice President will take. But we are a coequal branch of government, and Mr. Raskin's resolution is an appropriate resolution because we have a responsibility to govern and to protect the American people.

So this resolution is not in violation of the Constitution, because it is the Congress calling upon the Vice President to reflect on January 6, a day in infamy, to reflect the fact that there were six people who died, that we lost two precious law enforcement Capitol Hill Police, their injuries in many ways attributable to this, some in different ways than others, and we lost Americans.

Clearly, it is a long chain of events that goes back to the President of the United States. The President, when a duly announced election came about on November 6, 2020, proceeded to declare that it had been stolen and continued to stoke the fires of his believers to begin to plan some kind of attack, because he kept saying, ``Come to Washington. I will see you there.''

Then, of course, as time went on, I valued the President's right to the courts, of which he went, but he did not find that to be a solution for him.

So House Resolution 21 is the Congress speaking, and we have every right, as a coequal branch, to speak. Why?

Ms. JACKSON LEE. We have that right, Mr. Speaker, because the FBI has indicated that they have seen 100,000 digital media, and they will be looking for more to see those who endangered all of those who were here.

My appreciation to the police and the floor staff and law enforcement, custodial staff, our staff, media, and others who were put in harm's way along with Members.

So I rise to support this resolution because it does not violate the Constitution or the intent of the 25th Amendment. It provides for the Congress to speak to ask the Vice President to recognize that this President is the only one who has ever stoked this kind of action.

Ms. SCANLON. Mr. Speaker, we, of course, share the concern of our colleagues from the other side of the aisle that an incident like this never happens again. That is why we are urging the Vice President to invoke the 25th Amendment, because of the clear and present danger of continued violence under this administration.

While I believe there will be a time to talk about bipartisan efforts to have an investigation through this House, this is not the moment for it.

Matsui), a distinguished former member of the Rules Committee.


Ms. SCANLON. I would just suggest that sedition is inherently divisive, and it is difficult to unify before there has been accountability.


Ms. SCANLON. Just to clarify, this provision about suspending the rule about personalities is so that we can have a full and frank discussion of just why the request is being made to invoke the 25th Amendment and just why this President should be impeached. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to describe the high crimes and misdemeanors and other misconduct which forms the basis of those requests if that rule were not suspended.

As I mentioned in my opening, we don't view this as a partisan resolution. We have Members from all sides of the political spectrum now calling for the removal of this President. Members might want to check their news feed to see the growing list of civic, business, and religious leaders from across the country who have said: Enough is enough. This President is a clear and present danger.


Ms. SCANLON. Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to close. I would inquire if the gentleman has any more speakers.

Mr. Speaker, after the chaos and potentially--well, definitely criminal behavior that we saw here last week, there is no trust left between this administration and the majority of the American people.

The stability of our executive branch is a foundational piece of our democracy. This administration has failed or refused to uphold the most basic duties of protecting our Constitution and our national security or of respecting the coequal branches of our government.

Wednesday's bloody attack proved that this administration is an imminent and continuing danger to our country even in the waning days of this Presidency.

I am heartbroken for our country but more determined than ever to fight to preserve our democracy.

Mr. Speaker, I call on Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to do the right thing. I call upon our colleagues to do the right thing: to put our country before the interests of any one man and to join us in ending this failed Presidency.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues to support the rule and the underlying legislation.

The material previously referred to by Mr. Cole is as follows: Amendment to House Resolution 38

At the end of the resolution, add the following:

Sec. 5. Immediately upon adoption of this resolution, the House shall proceed to the consideration in the House of the bill (H.R. 275) to establish the National Commission on the Domestic Terrorist Attack Upon the United States Capitol. All points of order against consideration of the bill are waived. The bill shall be considered as read. All points of order against provisions in the bill are waived. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the bill and on any amendment thereto to final passage without intervening motion except: (1) one hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Homeland Security; and (2) one motion to recommit.

Sec. 6. Clause 1(c) of rule XIX shall not apply to the consideration of H.R. 275.