The United States Senate is currently (August 2021) split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. As such the Vice President gets the deciding vote:

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

(Constitution, Article I Section 3)

If the current president ceases to be president for whatever reason (death, resignation, impeachment, etc.) the current vice president would become president:

In Case of the 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,

(Constitution, Article II Section 1)

If that happens, a new vice president would have to be confirmed by a majority vote of both houses of Congress:

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.

(25th Amendment, Section 2)

It seems fairly likely that any nominee for the vacant vice presidency would be a Democrat. Thus confirming the nominee would give the Democrats back the tie-breaking vote in the Senate. But for the vote itself on the vice presidential nominee there would be no tie-breaker vote since the Senate is split 50-50 and there is no vice president (as per this question and this question). So Republicans could simply refuse to confirm a vice president, thus keeping the Senate without a tie-breaking vote indefinitely (until the next election). This could mean that the Senate might be able to get nothing done, if every vote is split along party lines.

This seems like an odd situation. Are any of my premises above incorrect? Or is there any other way that Republicans could be prevented from doing this, to ensure continuity of the Senate's operations? And if they could do it, would there be any reason for them not to do it?

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  • Not quite an exact duplicate, but the answers address the same issue. I’m not sure they fully answer your question, but you might want to edit yours to address the things not covered in the linked question
    – divibisan
    Commented Aug 22, 2021 at 21:07
  • @divibisan I cited that in my question as one of the premises.
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 22, 2021 at 21:07
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    @divibisan, The old Q. was merely procedural, this Q. is about weaponizing a loophole. Not a duplicate...
    – agc
    Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 3:27
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    "This could mean that the Senate might be able to get nothing done" This is a change? Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 21:51

1 Answer 1


Yes. An appointed VP must be approved by Congress.

In the, surely rare, situation in which the Senate is divided 50-50, and the President appoints a VP who can't get the support of any of the opposition party, then the 50-50 split will continue. This isn't "weaponizing a loophole" this is "works as intended".

The President is supposed to go back to the drawing board and find and find a candidate which 51 of representatives of the states can support. Or the President can negotiate to get their chosen person approved. Or they can wait and hope that the composition of the Senate will change.

A President doesn't really need a VP, and there have been extended periods of American history without one.

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    In this particular instance, the Republicans would also have to weigh up the fact that without a VP, if something were to happen to the new President, the Speaker of the House would then become President. Agreeing a compromise (Democratic) candidate for VP might end up being the lesser of two evils! Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 8:49
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    A president might not need a VP, but he definitely wants a senate majority.
    – Guran
    Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 8:55
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    True, so how much is the President willing to give to achieve it? This is the normal political process of a President negotiating with Congress, and is still "works as intended"
    – James K
    Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 9:48
  • What if 50 of the politicians agree to only approve a VP who supports them unquestioningly? Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 12:09
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    If that's not acceptable to the President, he can continue to lead the executive without a VP. In practice that's not how the Senate works. But sure, in theory, the Senate don't have to cooperate. But remember, the Senate is not whipped like a British style parliament. It is normal for the President not have a majority of the Senate... And in this case there has to be negotiation: You'll accept my pick for VP and I won't veto your farming bill .... or whatever.
    – James K
    Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 12:47

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