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Mike Pence casts tie-breaking vote for 8th time

Vice President Mike Pence cast his eighth tie-breaking vote in the Senate on Wednesday to save the controversial nomi...

Posted: Jan 25, 2018 11:54 AM
Updated: Jan 25, 2018 11:54 AM

Vice President Mike Pence cast his eighth tie-breaking vote in the Senate on Wednesday to save the controversial nomination of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to be ambassador at large for international religious freedom.

It was Pence's second time breaking a tie on Wednesday. Earlier, he had raced to Capitol Hill after a 49-49 tie to end a filibuster of Brownback's nomination. He was again needed to vote later in the day on the final confirmation vote, 50-49.

Democrats have concerns about Gov. Sam Brownback's confirmation

The vice president has a unique relationship with the Senate

Republicans control 51 seats in the chamber but two GOP senators were not present to vote: Sen. John McCain, who's battling cancer in Arizona, and Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who's in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum.

Throughout the tax reform battle in the fall, Democrats often cited tax cuts in Kansas -- which Brownback supported -- that were later repealed after the state's economy struggled. Brownback, a former senator himself, had been seen on Capitol Hill in recent months lobbying senators to back his nomination.

Democrats had also brought up concerns about Brownback's confirmation hearing in October. At the time, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia asked Brownback if there was any circumstance in which religious freedom could justify "criminalizing, imprisoning or executing" someone based on sexual orientation.

"I don't know what that would be, in what circumstance, but I would continue the policies that have been done in the prior administration in working on these international issues," he said.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, argued on the Senate floor Wednesday that Brownback's answer was insufficient.

"Governor Brownback could not bring himself to muster a resounding 'no,' " Menendez said. "Condemning such horrific human rights abuses should never be a heavy lift for anyone who seeks to represent our nation on the global stage."

According to The Kansas City Star, Brownback later clarified his answer in a written response

"Violence or persecution in the name of religion against members of the LGBT community is wrong, as is persecution or violence based on gender, race, faith, age, heritage, national origin, or disability," Brownback wrote.

RELATED: Mike Pence is breaking ties in the Senate at a record-setting pace

As Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, headed into Brownback's confirmation vote, he was asked about the opposition to Brownback, which is unusual for nominees who are former senators.

"Sometimes politics trumps friendships around here," Hatch said. "And it shouldn't."

As president of the Senate, the vice president has a unique relationship with the upper chamber and can cast a tie-breaking vote in the rare event the Senate is evenly split. Since the 1870s, each vice president has done this fewer than 10 times during his tenure.

While Pence has been vice president, Republicans have maintained a thin margin over Democrats in the Senate, which increases the likelihood of a tie. For all of 2017, Republicans numbered 52, compared with Democrats at 48. That balance changed to 51-49 in January, after Democrat Doug Jones was sworn in following his victory in the December special election in Alabama.

Tie-breaking votes are also more common now because the threshold for passage on procedural votes like the one Wednesday was lowered from 60 votes to 50 in 2013, essentially creating more opportunities for a tie.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 941120

Reported Deaths: 15315
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1282511983
Lake633041097
Allen53609758
Hamilton43827447
St. Joseph41906590
Elkhart33545490
Vanderburgh30383448
Tippecanoe26820249
Johnson23609417
Hendricks22250341
Porter21737346
Clark17409229
Madison17366384
Vigo16108281
Monroe14466191
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Delaware14070221
Howard13865272
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Warrick10674177
Bartholomew10542168
Floyd10430205
Wayne9959226
Grant9130204
Morgan8865160
Boone8389111
Dubois7710123
Dearborn762289
Henry7608130
Noble7413101
Marshall7362128
Cass7176117
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Shelby6584111
Jackson656785
Gibson6156107
Harrison603786
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Montgomery5805105
DeKalb574291
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Decatur385296
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Jennings353156
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Starke280064
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Union96911
Ohio79711
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1365800

Reported Deaths: 21596
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1522221560
Cuyahoga1344852327
Hamilton976051320
Montgomery670271141
Summit562091047
Lucas50900863
Butler47417655
Stark41580976
Lorain31567532
Warren30001331
Mahoning26963639
Clermont25628292
Lake24585417
Delaware22313145
Licking20487241
Fairfield20420221
Greene20309272
Trumbull19866509
Medina19796287
Clark17879328
Richland16314234
Portage16130229
Wood15681208
Allen14115256
Miami13786253
Muskingum12641152
Wayne11946238
Columbiana11708241
Tuscarawas10953269
Marion10725148
Pickaway10465129
Scioto10324127
Erie9747171
Ross9436176
Lawrence8755125
Hancock8458141
Ashtabula8317185
Geauga8173156
Belmont8140187
Jefferson7527172
Huron7423128
Union731851
Washington7183120
Athens697165
Sandusky6848134
Darke6756136
Knox6671122
Seneca6358137
Ashland5948113
Auglaize587188
Shelby5727101
Brown564171
Mercer557890
Defiance5483101
Madison543371
Crawford5425114
Highland541581
Fulton530683
Clinton525580
Logan512182
Preble4994110
Putnam4833106
Guernsey470364
Williams459282
Perry449852
Champaign445964
Ottawa436884
Jackson425362
Pike388843
Morrow383851
Fayette375853
Coshocton374766
Adams360675
Hardin359069
Gallia347356
Holmes3259108
Henry324668
Van Wert314670
Hocking301769
Wyandot280658
Carroll262652
Paulding242243
Meigs213942
Monroe189749
Noble169340
Morgan165829
Harrison157940
Vinton138118
Unassigned05
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