A vice presidential, tie-breaking vote in the Senate is something that's usually considered very rare, but Mike Pence made the practice seem normal in 2017 and he could be back to cast even more votes in 2018 thanks to a narrower GOP majority in the Senate.
Pence cast five tie-breaking votes in 2017 and has already outcast seven out of nine of his predecessors.
"It’s a fascinating thing. If you go back to 1789 when the country started, we’ve averaged a little over once per year of a vice president needing to cast a vote. But never in modern history has a vice president needed to cast five votes in one year," said Gary Nordlinger, a political analyst and professor at George Washington University.
Pence certainly isn't the only modern Vice President to be called in to break a tie in the Senate. Dick Cheney broke 8 ties during his 8 years in office and George H. W. Bush broke 7 during his 8 years as vice president.
In October, Pence voted to repeal an Obama-era rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that would allow consumers to sue banks publicly.
In July, he cast the deciding vote to allow the Senate to start debate on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
In March, Pence cast two votes, one to allow the Senate to start debate on a repeal of another Obama-era rule blocking states from denying funding to Planned Parenthood. He later voted again to pass the repeal.
Pence cast his first tie-breaking vote in February to confirm the nomination of Betsy DeVos to become the Secretary of Education. It was also the first time a Vice Presidential vote was needed to confirm a cabinet nominee.
Pence has a long way to go before breaking the all-time record though. That belongs to John C. Calhoun, who cast a whopping 31 tie-braking votes. Nine of those were cast over a four-month period in 1828.
Some have speculated that Pence's tie--breaking streak is a result of bitter divide over extremely partisan legislation, but Nordlinger says its really has more to do with the numbers in the Senate.
The fact that Republicans only had a two-seat majority made it more difficult for the GOP to pass controversial legislation on their own, and it's only going to get more difficult in 2018.
Now that Democrat Doug Jones has officially been sworn in to take over the Alabama senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, Republicans can only afford to lose one vote to be locked in a 50-50 tie with Democrats.
"You have partisanship in the senate, yes. Again, in modern history the opposition party has learned to opposed but also it shows how hard it is to have a governing party. You know, it’s a lot easier to be united when you’re in the minority than it is when you’re in the majority," Nordlinger said.
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