The chain of government command is clearly established, which will allow President Donald Trump to get some well deserved rest at Bethesda Medical Center whether he likes it or not. To him, it’s just the flu. He doesn’t feel too terrible and wants to be working.
His doctors agree that he’s doing well and responding favorably to the high tech experimental drugs they’re pumping into him. Even so, Americans have been anxiously wondering just what happens if anything goes horribly wrong. Does Nancy Pelosi get promoted to Vice President? Thankfully, the answer to that one is no.
A clearly established chain of command
It’s vitally crucial for a country to have a line of succession clearly defined well in advance of any possible catastrophe because it would throw the nation into chaos and make us vulnerable to our adversaries if there came a time when nobody knew who was in charge.
That’s why the 25th Amendment forged a solid chain of command to be used in an emergency. Even temporary situations are covered.
For now, President Trump is well enough to “discharge his duties.” If he was suddenly to get worse, or have an adverse reaction to one of the experimental drugs, and it left him “incapacitated,” then Vice President Mike Pence steps up as the next link in the chain and takes charge until the President recovers.
If Vice President Pence were to suddenly buy the farm immediately after Trump did, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi would take charge.
Next in line after Nancy Pelosi is the “Senate majority’s senior member.” Right now, that would be Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa. After that, everyone will look to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call the shots. There are others lined up, far down the chain.
Doctors, Nurses and ALL at the GREAT Walter Reed Medical Center, and others from likewise incredible institutions who have joined them, are AMAZING!!!Tremendous progress has been made over the last 6 months in fighting this PLAGUE. With their help, I am feeling well!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 3, 2020
It’s been used before
The clearly established chain of command procedure for when a sitting president expects to be temporarily incapacitated, which both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush used while undergoing surgery, is for the president to notify the next two people in line behind the Vice President “that he is unable to function.”
That transfers power to the vice president until the president asks for it back. It’s been used exactly three times so far since it went into effect in 1967.
In 1985 Ronald Reagan had a surgical procedure for polyps which required anesthesia. George W. Bush was also put under heavy sedation in 2002 and 2007. As soon as the drugs wore off and Reagan woke up, his “chief of staff and counsel asked if he felt well enough to resume his authority.
He said he did and congressional leaders were notified.” He didn’t think it was that big of a deal but his first use of the chain procedure went down in the history books. Reagan “didn’t think his situation was the kind the authors intended when creating the amendment.”
When the chain of command rules put Vice President Dick Cheney in the hot seat for two hours, as acting president in 2007, he couldn’t resist writing a letter to his grandkids, “as a souvenir for them.” This also isn’t the first time a president was ill with election season in full swing.
President Theodore Roosevelt “was shot in the chest while on the campaign trail in 1912.” He didn’t even delay his speech. “I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot but it takes more than that to kill the Bull Moose.” The nation wishes President Donald Trump a speedy recovery and advises him to get some rest while he has the chance.