If VP Becomes Acting President When President Is Temporarily Disabled, What Happens to VP’s Tiebreaker Vote?

The Vice President can break a tie in the Senate, which is especially important when the Senate is split 50-50, as it is now. Say a President gets ill enough that he recognizes that he’s becoming temporarily incapacitated (or the Vice-President and the majority of the Cabinet so recognizes, for instance if the incapacitation comes on suddenly). The VP would become Acting President; but would she still be able to cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate?

The Twenty-Fifth Amendment provides, in relevant part,

Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2. 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.

Section 3. 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.

Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President. [Details for handling disputes about this omitted. -EV]

And the body of the Constitution provides:

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

This suggests that, when the VP “exercise[s] the Office of President of the United States,” she doesn’t exercise the office of “President of the Senate,” and therefore lacks the power to cast her “Vote” in the Senate when the Senators are “equally divided.” – READ MORE

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