When the Vice-President is serving as Acting President on account of a temporary disability of the President, do they retain their Vice-Presidential powers, including the power to preside over the Senate and cast a tie-breaking vote?

  • 1
    possible duplicate: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/57763/…
    – user102008
    Commented Jan 4, 2021 at 1:54
  • @user102008 Thanks! I wouldn't have posted this question if I'd seen that one. But the rules don't let us close a question as a duplicate of a question on another stack exchange site, do they?
    – bof
    Commented Jan 4, 2021 at 2:56

1 Answer 1


The 25th amendment §3 says

Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Nothing in the Constitution deprives the Vice President of his powers / duties when he is also Acting President. Alternatively, the VP can become acting President under §4, without presidential cooperation, by declaration of the VP and a majority of the cabinet. Then either the President asserts that there is no inability, or Congress decides there is. But: unless the president dies or resigns, or is impeached, the VP is Acting President and actual Vice President, and therefore breaks ties in the Senate.

Note that under §4, the VP plus cabinet must declare POTUS unable, and must do it again if POTUS denies the inability. That means that there must still be a VP, who along with the cabinet re-affirms the disability.

  • Thank you for your answer but I still have doubts. Nithing in the Constitution says that the VP stops presiding over the senate if the president dies or resigns; conceivably one person could hold both offices. Article 2 section 1 says "In Case of thr Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President . . ." It sounds to me (not a lawyer) as if the cases of removal, death, resignation, or inability all have the same effect. It has somehow come to be decided (perhaps
    – bof
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 10:21
  • on separation of powers grounds?) that in case of death or resignation, the VO becomes president and no longer has the powers that come with the vice presidency. It is not completely clear to me that the same would not apply while the VP was serving as Acting President, which coululd be for anything from a few hours to 4 years.
    – bof
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 10:25
  • In the last sentence of your answer, are you saying that section 4 of the 25th amendment, about removing an incompetent president from power against his will, is inoperative when there is no vice president? That seems like a serious flaw in the amendment.
    – bof
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 10:37
  • @bof the language you quote from article 2 section 1 has been superseded by the 25th amendment.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 16:28

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