Whenever the Office of President of the United States becomes vacant, whether by resignation, impeachment, ill health, whatever, the reason is immaterial.

Naturally, the Vice President takes over the presidency. No problem: sadly, it's happened before.

One of the new President's necessary acts is to select a new Vice-President, to fill out the remainder of the term before the next election. The selection must be approved by both the House and the Senate. However, the Senate is evenly split at 50 - 50.

Now there have been tie votes in the Senate, and they are resolved by the President of the Senate casting a deciding vote if he/she so chooses.

But, Constitutionally, the Vice-President is the President of the Senate! And there isn't one yet! The tie vote is to confirm the selection of a Vice-President!

So, in the absence of a Vice-President, how is a tie in a Senate vote decided?


The Twenty-fifth Amendment states:

Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Thus, in the absence of a majority the candidate would be denied the office.

  • ...and then what?
    – Strawberry
    Nov 2 '18 at 18:20
  • 4
    the new president would have to appoint another candidate and the process would start all over... technically. In reality they would know the results before the voting ever began and would probably pick another candidate going into the confirmation hearings.
    – Cos Callis
    Nov 2 '18 at 18:21
  • But what if the Senate majority could be reached by the vote of the President of the Senate? Who holds this position when there is no VP?
    – DJohnM
    Nov 2 '18 at 19:42
  • 7
    @DJohnM nobody
    – Cos Callis
    Nov 2 '18 at 19:57
  • 1
    There have been extended periods in the past when there was no vice president, mostly before the adoption of the 25th Amendment. For example, there was no Vice President from the death of Lincoln to the end of that presidential term, or rather to the start of the next term. Nov 2 '18 at 22:13

The general rule is that a tie vote in either house of Congress loses. Note that the Vice President may vote to create a tie, so that if the senate votes for some measure by 50-49 (one senator being absent or not voting for some reason), the Vice President may vote against it, create a tie, and the measure does not pass.

Edit: The above italicized statement is wrong. I distinctly recall a provision that the Vice President could vote "whenever his vote would affect the result." This must have applied to some other position, as none of the sources show it as being correct for the Vice President.

  • 2
    Please proof-read, are you claiming (incorrectly) that the Vice President may vote to CREATE a tie (or is that a typo) If that is not a typo, please source a single example of that. The Vice President may only vote AFTER the tie has been declared.
    – Cos Callis
    Nov 2 '18 at 20:00
  • 5
    US Constitution, Article I, section 3, paragraph 4: "The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided." Nov 2 '18 at 21:09
  • The right to create a tie is a Roberts Rules of Order thing. It effectively means the officer does get a vote. Nov 2 '18 at 21:39

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