|Next in line?|
Let's Debunk The Internet
I'm getting a lot of messages on Facebook and emails telling me that Nancy Pelosi may be the next Vice President of the United States. The idea behind this is that if Joe Biden is removed from office through the use of the 25th Amendment because of his inability to do his job or impeached for high crimes or misdemeanors, then Pelosi as Speaker of the House automatically becomes Vice President under Kamala Harris who would automatically become President.
The notion that this would take place comes from the fact that the Speaker of the House, whoever that is, is third-in-line as a matter of ascension. The presidential line of succession is the order in which officials of the United States federal government assume the powers and duties of the office of the president of the United States.
There is an important distinction to be made here. That distinction is important, and Americans need to understand how it works. The importance of that distinction has to do with the "simultaneous" death, incapacitation, or removal of the president and vice president. Not merely the death, incapacitation, or removal of the president "or" the vice president. Both positions have to be vacant "simultaneously."
If the incumbent president becomes incapacitated, dies, resigns, or is removed from office, then the order of succession specifies that the office passes to the vice president. The order of succession also states that if the vice presidency is "simultaneously" vacant, or if the vice president is "also" incapacitated at that "same instant," the powers and duties of the presidency pass to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The keyword is "simultaneously." So what happens if there is not "simultaneous" death, incapacitation, or removal of both the president and vice president? What happens if one or the other is still functioning? What happens if the President or the Vice President dies, is incapacitated, or is removed from office?
The answer to that took place in 1973. Yes, just a matter of a mere 48 years ago. And as for what took place, the Speaker of the House stayed the Speaker of the House.
Gerald Ford was nominated to take the position of Vice President on October 12, 1973. It was the first time that the vice-presidential vacancy provision of the 25th Amendment Section 2 clause had been implemented. The 25th Amendment Section 2 clause states "Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress."
On August 20, 1974, President Ford nominated fellow Republican former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller to fill the vice president vacancy that he himself had just vacated. After months of a lengthy confirmation process, on December 10, 1974, the Senate voted to confirm Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President by a 90 to 7 vote. The House of Representatives confirmed his nomination by a 287 to 128 vote. Nelson Rockefeller took the oath of office as Vice President of the United States after the House confirmation on December 19, 1974.