Vice President Mike Pence is expected to cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate on Tuesday to confirm Betsy DeVos as education secretary, despite the protests of Democrats and two Republicans. If it is necessary for Pence to step in, it will be a moment for Senate history — never before has a vice president been the tie-breaking vote on a Cabinet nomination, Bloomberg Politics reports.
Vice presidents rarely step in to swing votes in the Senate, with just 241 tiebreakers cast since 1789, a rate of about one a year. The last tie, though, was nearly nine years ago, when former Vice President Dick Cheney broke a 50-50 deadlock on a procedural vote related to the federal budget. Former Vice President Joe Biden never cast a tiebreaker.
The last time a vice president ruled on a presidential nomination was in 1986, when President Ronald Reagan appointed Daniel A. Manion to a federal appellate court, The New York Times reports. Like DeVos, Manion's critics argued he had little experience for the job. Vice President George H.W. Bush settled the split Senate vote.
Senate Democrats, speaking in shifts, spent all night on the Senate floor, part of a 24-hour push to protest the nomination of DeVos. Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) have said they will oppose DeVos. If another Republican decides to vote against DeVos, however, she will not be confirmed.