List of tie-breaking votes cast by vice presidents of the United States

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The Vice President of the United States is the ex officio President of the United States Senate, as provided in Article I, Section 3, Clause 4 of the United States Constitution:

As of July 25, 2017, the tie-breaking vote (or casting vote) has been made 259 times by 36 different Vice Presidents, according to the U.S. Senate.[1]

Historical significance[edit]

When there is a tie in the Senate, as seen here for the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, the Vice President (in this case, Mike Pence) has to step in to break the tie.

The first President of the Senate, John Adams, cast 29 tie-breaking votes. His votes protected the president's sole authority over the removal of appointees, influenced the location of the national capital, and prevented war with Great Britain. On at least one occasion he persuaded senators to vote against legislation that he opposed, and he frequently lectured the Senate on procedural and policy matters. Adams's political views and his active role in the Senate made him a natural target for critics of the Washington administration. Toward the end of his first term, as a result of a threatened resolution that would have silenced him except for procedural and policy matters, he began to exercise more restraint in the hope of realizing the goal shared by many of his successors: election in his own right as President of the United States.[2]

In 2001, during the 107th Congress, the Senate was divided 50–50 between Republicans and Democrats and thus Dick Cheney's tie-breaking vote gave the Republicans the Senate majority. However, because the 107th Congress was sworn in on January 3, while the president and vice president were not sworn in until the 20th, Democrats technically held a 51–50 majority in the Senate for the 17 days while Al Gore was still Vice President. However, no substantive legislative work was done during that time.

In recent years, with the rise in the use of the filibuster in the United States Senate, the Vice President's tie-breaking vote has become less important, because close votes on important issues will, with few exceptions, almost certainly be filibustered, preventing a tied vote from taking place. Three-fifths of the votes—far higher than the half from a tie—is needed to end a filibuster. For comparison, more tie-breaking votes were cast by the first seven vice presidents (84) than have been cast by all of the Vice Presidents since the turn of the 20th century (71).

List of presidents of the Senate by number of tie-breaking votes[edit]

There have been 259 tie-breaking votes cast by 36 presidents of the Senate while 12 presidents of the Senate did not cast tie-breaking votes. The average number of tie-breaking votes cast by a Senate President may be considered to be 0 (the mode: 12 Senate presidents cast no tie-breaking votes), 3 (the median value: half cast more, half cast less), or about 5.396 (the mean value: 259 total votes divided among 48 Senate Presidents).

Rank by
# of Tie-
breaking
votes
# of Tie-
breaking
votes
President of the Senate Party Order in
Office
Term of office President(s)
1 31 John C. Calhoun Democratic-Republican 7 Mar 4, 1825Dec 28, 1832 J. Q. Adams / Andrew Jackson
2 29 John Adams Federalist 1 Apr 21, 1789Mar 4, 1797 George Washington
3 19 George Dallas Democratic 11 Mar 4, 1845Mar 4, 1849 James K. Polk
4 18 Schuyler Colfax Republican 17 Mar 4, 1869Mar 4, 1873 Ulysses S. Grant
5 14 Richard M. Johnson Democratic 9 Mar 4, 1837Mar 4, 1841 Martin Van Buren
5 14 George Clinton Democratic-Republican 4 Mar 4, 1805Apr 20, 1812 Thomas Jefferson / James Madison
7 10 John C. Breckinridge Democratic 14 Mar 4, 1857Mar 4, 1861 James Buchanan
8 9 Thomas R. Marshall Democratic 28 Mar 4, 1913Mar 4, 1921 Woodrow Wilson
8 9 Elbridge Gerry Democratic-Republican 5 Mar 4, 1813Nov 23, 1814 James Madison
10 8 Alben W. Barkley Democratic 35 Jan 20, 1949Jan 20, 1953 Harry S. Truman
10 8 Richard M. Nixon Republican 36 Jan 20, 1953Jan 20, 1961 Dwight D. Eisenhower
10 8 Dick Cheney Republican 46 Jan 20, 2001Jan 20, 2009 George W. Bush
13 7 Hannibal Hamlin Republican 15 Mar 4, 1861Mar 4, 1865 Abraham Lincoln
13 7 George H. W. Bush Republican 43 Jan 20, 1981Jan 20, 1989 Ronald W. Reagan
15 6 Daniel D. Tompkins Democratic-Republican 6 Mar 4, 1817Mar 4, 1825 James Monroe
15 6 William A. Wheeler Republican 19 Mar 4, 1877Mar 4, 1881 Rutherford B. Hayes
17 4 Martin Van Buren Democratic 8 Mar 4, 1833Mar 4, 1837 Andrew Jackson
17 4 Levi P. Morton Republican 22 Mar 4, 1889Mar 4, 1893 Benjamin Harrison
17 4 James S. Sherman Republican 27 Mar 4, 1909Oct 30, 1912 William H. Taft
17 4 Henry A. Wallace Democratic 33 Jan 20, 1941Jan 20, 1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt
17 4 Hubert H. Humphrey Democratic 38 Jan 20, 1965Jan 20, 1969 Lyndon B. Johnson
17 4 Al Gore Democratic 45 Jan 20, 1993Jan 20, 2001 Bill Clinton
17 4 Mike Pence Republican 48 Jan 20, 2017 – present Donald Trump
24 3 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 2 Mar 4, 1797Mar 4, 1801 John Adams
24 3 Aaron Burr Democratic-Republican 3 Mar 4, 1801Mar 4, 1805 Thomas Jefferson
24 3 Millard Fillmore Whig 12 Mar 4, 1849Jul 9, 1850 Zachary Taylor
24 3 Chester A. Arthur Republican 20 Mar 4, 1881Sep 19, 1881 James A. Garfield
24 3 Charles Curtis Republican 31 Mar 4, 1929Mar 4, 1933 Herbert Hoover
24 3 John N. Garner Democratic 32 Mar 4, 1933Jan 20, 1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt
30 2 Adlai Stevenson Democratic 23 Mar 4, 1893Mar 4, 1897 Grover Cleveland
30 2 Charles G. Dawes Republican 30 Mar 4, 1925Mar 4, 1929 Calvin Coolidge
30 2 Spiro T. Agnew Republican 39 Jan 20, 1969Oct 10, 1973 Richard M. Nixon
33 1 Henry Wilson Republican 18 Mar 4, 1873Nov 22, 1875 Ulysses S. Grant
33 1 Garret A. Hobart Republican 24 Mar 4, 1897Nov 21, 1899 William McKinley
33 1 Harry S. Truman Democratic 34 Jan 20, 1945Apr 12, 1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt
33 1 Walter F. Mondale Democratic 42 Jan 20, 1977Jan 20, 1981 Jimmy Carter
37 0 John Tyler Whig 10 Mar 4, 1841Apr 4, 1841 William H. Harrison
37 0 William R. King Democratic 13 Mar 4, 1853Apr 18, 1853 Franklin Pierce
37 0 Andrew Johnson Democratic 16 Mar 4, 1865Apr 15, 1865 Abraham Lincoln
37 0 Thomas A. Hendricks Democratic 21 Mar 4, 1885Nov 25, 1885 Grover Cleveland
37 0 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 25 Mar 4, 1901Sep 14, 1901 William McKinley
37 0 Charles W. Fairbanks Republican 26 Mar 4, 1905Mar 4, 1909 Theodore Roosevelt
37 0 Calvin Coolidge Republican 29 Mar 4, 1921Aug 2, 1923 Warren G. Harding
37 0 Lyndon B. Johnson Democratic 37 Jan 20, 1961Nov 22, 1963 John F. Kennedy
37 0 Gerald R. Ford Republican 40 Dec 6, 1973Aug 9, 1974 Richard M. Nixon
37 0 Nelson A. Rockefeller Republican 41 Dec 19, 1974Jan 20, 1977 Gerald Ford
37 0 Dan Quayle Republican 44 Jan 20, 1989Jan 20, 1993 George H. W. Bush
37 0 Joe Biden Democratic 47 Jan 20, 2009Jan 20, 2017 Barack Obama

List of tie-breaking votes since 1981[edit]

Senate President Date Bill Vote Ultimate result
George H. W. Bush July 13, 1983 Motion to table Pryor Amdt.1468 on nerve gas Yea: 50-49
November 8, 1983 Stevens/Tower/Goldwater Amdt.2517 on nerve gas Yea: 47-46
June 14, 1984 Motion to table Moynihan Amdt.3208 on MX missiles Yea: 49-48
May 10, 1985 Dole Amdt.93 on cutting deficit Yea: 50-49
July 23, 1986 Motion to reconsider vote on Manion nomination Nay: 49–50
August 7, 1986 Pryor Amdt.2612 on nerve gas Nay: 50–51
September 22, 1987 Motion to table Johnston Amdt.710 on SDI funding Yea: 51-50
Dan Quayle None
Al Gore June 25, 1993 H.R. 2264 (Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993) Yea: 50-49 Conference Report (see below) enacted as Pub.L. 103–66.
August 6, 1993 H.R. 2264 (Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993) Conference Report Yea: 51-50 Enacted.
Pub.L. 103–66
August 3, 1994 Motion to table S.Amdt. 2446 (Johnston Ethanol Limitation Amendment) to H.R 4624 (Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act of 1995) Yea: 51-50 S.Amdt. 2446 tabled.
May 20, 1999 S.Amdt. 362 (Lautenberg Gun Show Sales Amendment) to S. 254 (School Safety Act of 1999) Yea: 51-50 S. 254 returned to Senate by House via blue slip. Expired at end of session.
Dick Cheney April 3, 2001 S.Amdt. 173 (Grassley Prescription Drug Reserve Fund Amendment) to H.Con.Res. 83 (2002 budget) Yea: 51-50 Agreed to.
April 5, 2001 S.Amdt. 347 (Hutchison Marriage Penalty Tax Elimination Amendment) to H.Con.Res. 83 (2002 budget) Yea: 51-50 Agreed to.
May 21, 2002 Motion to table S.Amdt. 3406 (Allen Mortgage Loan Amendment) to H.R. 3009 (Trade Act of 2002) Yea: 50-49 Tabled.
April 11, 2003 H.Con.Res. 95 (2004 budget) Yea: 51-50 Enacted.
May 15, 2003 S.Amdt. 664 (Nickles Dividend Exclusion Amendment) to S. 1054 (Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003) Yea: 51-50 S. 1054 incorporated into H.R. 2 (see below), which was enacted as Pub.L. 108–27.
May 23, 2003 H.R. 2 (Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003) Conference Report Yea: 51-50 Enacted.
Pub.L. 108–27
December 21, 2005 S. 1932 (Personal Responsibility, Work, and Family Promotion Act of 2005) Yea:
51-50
Passed.
Bill sent to conference committee and enacted, Pub.L. 109–171.
March 13, 2008 Motion to reconsider S.Amdt. 4189 to S.Con.Res. 70 Yea:
51-50
Motion agreed to.
Joe Biden None
Mike Pence February 7, 2017 PN37 (Nomination of Elisabeth Prince DeVos, of Michigan, to be Secretary of Education.[3][4]) Yea:
51-50
Nomination confirmed.
March 30, 2017 Motion to proceed to H.J.Res. 43 Yea:
51-50
Motion agreed to.
March 30, 2017 H.J.Res. 43 (Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the final rule submitted by Secretary of Health and Human Services relating to compliance with title X requirements by project recipients in selecting subrecipients.) Yea:
51-50
Enacted.
Pub.L. 115–23
July 25, 2017 Motion to proceed to H.R. 1628 (American Health Care Act of 2017).[5] Yea:
51-50
Motion agreed to.

References[edit]

External links[edit]