Can Joe Biden be replaced as the sitting president?

President Biden’s incoherency and fatigue at last night’s CNN Presidential Debate has left Democratic insiders questioning whether President Biden should seek a second term in office. But a more urgent issue is the president’s ability to continue his first term in office. This guide explains the constitutional mechanism for Biden to be replaced as the sitting president.

The 25th Amendment to the Constitution spells out the presidential order of succession.

The first three scenarios deal with the possibility of death, resignation, or illness. It is through these sections that Vice Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Gerald Ford each became President of the United States. The fourth and most talked about section in the 25th Amendment provides a mechanism to remove a president without their consent. 

It last became part of the national conversation in the aftermath of the January 6 riots, when some cabinet members reportedly discussed removing former President Trump from office.

According to the relevant section, these steps would take place: 

The Vice President (in this case, Kamala Harris) and a majority of cabinet members deliver a written declaration to the president pro tempore of the Senate (Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA) and Speaker of the House (Rep. Mike Johnson, R-LA) saying that he is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’ This would make Harris the acting president.If President Biden writes a letter saying he is capable of performing his duties, then he resumes them unless Harris and the cabinet majority deliver another declaration stating the same inability. That must be sent within four days of the president’s declaration.The question would then go to Congress, who would assemble within 48 hours and vote on the issue within 21 days. If that vote succeeded, Biden would be stripped of his office, and Harris would continue as acting president until Americans chose their next President in the next election. In that scenario, Harris could run for President in that same election.

No. There is no reporting that anyone in Biden’s inner circle or the White House is considering such a move. 

Elsewhere, voices across the political spectrum have raised the possibility that Biden is not capable of remaining in office.

That includes figures ranging from Johnson to comedian Jon Stewart.

As above, the 25th amendment also deals with succession in the event of death or resignation. In both cases, Vice President Harris would become President of the United States.

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