Political News

Mike Pence is breaking ties in the Senate at a record-setting pace

Posted July 26

While members of the US Senate cast their votes one-by-one on a procedural hurdle for the GOP health care bill on Tuesday, a familiar figure was waiting in the wings: Mike Pence.

For the fourth time in just six months, the vice president swooped in to cast a tie-breaking vote, ending the 50-50 deadlock with the 51st vote to advance the bill.

"The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative and the motion is agreed to," Pence said from the presiding officer's chair on the floor.

That vote puts Pence on a historically record-setting pace for breaking ties all the way back to John Adams in 1789, according to data from the US Senate Historical Office.

Pence is on track to average 7.9 tie-breaking votes per year, topping Chester Arthur's current highest pace of 5.5 votes per year. Almost two in three vice presidents in American history cast one tie-breaking vote or fewer per year in office.

Tuesday's vote marked the fourth time Pence has cast a tie-breaking vote so far.

He pushed through a plan to allow states to block funding for Planned Parenthood, casting a tie-breaking vote on a procedural motion and then a second tie-breaking vote later that day on the actual legislation.

He also cast the deciding vote in the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education.

One main reason the Senate is finding itself deadlocked so often is because of its slim 52 Republican-seat majority and divided GOP caucus.

Pence is currently tied for 17th place all-time in total deadlock-resolving votes. John Calhoun holds the top spot with 31 tie-breaking votes during his time as vice president, from 1825 to 1832. John Adams cast 29 deciding votes as vice president in the late 1700s.

More recently, Al Gore cast four tie-breaking votes, Dick Cheney cast eight and Joe Biden cast zero during his eight years as vice president.

The Constitution provides that the vice president also serve as the president of the Senate, who has the power to cast a vote only if the Senate is equally divided.

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