House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stepped up the pressure on VP Mike Pence to act to remove President Donald Trump from office over his role in last week’s storming of Congress.
Lawmakers are expected to bring up a resolution asking VP Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare the president unfit for office.
Mike Pence is said to oppose the idea.
If he refuses, the House will hold a vote to impeach President Trump who had urged supporters to march on the Capitol.
Donald Trump has been accused by Democrats and an increasing number of fellow Republicans over the riot, following a rally in which the president repeated unsubstantiated allegations of vote fraud. Five people died in the attack, including a Capitol police officer.
President Trump has made no public statements since he was banned from social media platforms on January 8.
He is due to leave office on January 20, when Joe Biden will be sworn in as president.
Donald Trump has said he will not attend Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony.
Nancy Pelosi wrote to lawmakers saying the House of Representatives would present a resolution on January 11 to formally request that VP Pence invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which would allow him to remove President Trump from the White House and become acting president.
The House could vote on the resolution on January 12. After that, Mike Pence and the cabinet would be given 24 hours to act before the House’s potential move toward impeachment.
Nancy Pelosi wrote in her letter: “We will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both.
“The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this president is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”
Although Mike Pence has appeared to distance himself from the president by saying on January 10 he planned to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration, there is no sign that the vice-president is prepared to invoke the amendment.
In a separate development, First Lady Melania Trump, who rarely makes public comments about political events, condemned January 6 violence, saying the “nation must heal in a civil manner”.
Melania Trump said in a statement called Our Path Forward released by the White House: “I implore people to stop the violence, never make assumptions based on the color of a person’s skin or use differing political ideologies as a basis for aggression and viciousness.”
House Democrats have vowed to press ahead quickly with impeachment. To impeach, in this context, means to bring charges in Congress, and Nancy Pelosi said Democrats could introduce a charge of “incitement of insurrection” against President Trump.
Senior lawmakers say a vote to impeach President Trump in the House could be held by mid-week.
Donald Trump could become the only president in US history to have been impeached twice.
Joe Biden has said impeachment is for Congress to decide, even though he has thought “for a long time President Trump was not fit to hold the job”.