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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Natural Born Bunk

Q: Have Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Keith Olbermann introduced a bill that would do away with the requirement that the U.S. president be a natural born citizen?

A: No. Pelosi’s office confirmed that she has not, and Olbermann is not even a member of Congress.


Congress is not considering a bill that would allow noncitizens to become president, although a story gaining traction on the internet claims it is.

The story, published on Sept. 18 on a website registered to an owner in Macedonia, says that Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, and Keith Olbermann, a political commentator and former television news anchor, had introduced a bill that would strike the constitutional requirement that the president be a natural born citizen.

“Democrat Congressmen Pelosi and Keith Olbermann introduced H.B. 2169-B, which would remove the requirement that the President be born here,” says the story that appeared on Americannews88.com.

The post on that website was flagged as potentially fabricated news on Facebook, but a similar story appeared four days earlier on thelastlineofdefense.org, which describes itself as a satirical website and says in a disclaimer that its stories “present fiction as fact.”

The story suggests that the reason for the proposed change is that Democrats will need to draw from a much wider field than they currently have in order to find a candidate who could take on President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

Pelosi’s office, however, confirmed to FactCheck.org that she has proposed no such change. No other member of Congress has put forth such a bill, either.

And while it is true that Olbermann has been critical of Trump, he is not a congressman and cannot introduce legislation.

Also, bills that originate in the House of Representatives are identified by the letters H.R. followed by a number, but the Americannews88.com story refers to the bill as H.B. 2169-B. Congress is considering a bill numbered H.R. 2169, but it concerns the Department of Homeland Security, not the citizenship of the president.

Changing the natural born citizenship requirement for the presidency would actually require a constitutional amendment, which would be done through a joint resolution rather than a bill. That resolution would have to pass both houses of Congress, with two-thirds of the members of each in favor of it, and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label viral fake news stories flagged by readers on the social media network.


Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) registration database. Search for Americannews88.com. Accessed 20 Sep 2017.


BREAKING: House Dems Introduce Bill To Remove Citizenship Requirement From Presidency.” Thelastlineofdefense.org. 14 Sep 2017.

U.S. Constitution. Article II, Section 1.

Government Publishing Office. About Congressional Bills. Accessed 21 Sep 2017.

Congress.gov. Legislation tracking. Accessed 21 Sep 2017.

National Constitution Center. Amendment Process. Accessed 22 Sep 2017.