Vice President, the Senate and the Constitution

During the debate, "Fact Check" Biden stated "And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit."

If anyone cares, here is a direct quote from the US Constitution "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 choose 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."

The only other mention of duties of the Vice President is to succeed the President in a variety of circumstances.

I know that the Constitution is supposed to be a "living, breathing document", but until it is amended, it is actually static. I also know that few Senators and Congresspersons actually read the Constitution, but it still exists, it is the basis of all of our laws, and it leaves a lot to interpretation. Biden's interpretation uses all of the right words (except for the word ONLY), but jumbles them around to create a different meaning.

When I read Article I, Section 3 it says to me that the VP, as President of the Senate would have all rights and powers that the Senate has confered, through rulemaking, to the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, who in actuality is acting in place of the President of the Senate (the Vice President.) Because the VP has historically abdicated his/her position as President of the Senate, does not mean that authority could not be recaptured.

The Constitution says nothing about the VP closely advising the President and until recently, this was unheard of. A little known fact is that the Constitution originally stated in Article 2, Section 1, paragraph 3 that the Electors (those pesky relics that still exist) must vote for two persons, at least one of which is not from their state, and the person that gets the most votes in total becomes President and the runner-up becomes Vice President. The Twelfth Amendment changed that to state that the Electors vote separately for President and Vice President, but the fact remains that the President could end up with someone as VP who was not his running mate.

Here is what Palin said: "Of course, we know what a vice president does. And that's not only to preside over the Senate and will take that position very seriously also. I'm thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president's policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are."

I am sure that if she were allowed to correct her run-on sentence structure, that it would read a little bit better, but basically, she is saying what I said earlier in this blog: the Vice President is constitutionally allowed to be more pro-active in the workings of the Senate than he traditionally has been. Is this good? Does it insult the sensitivities of the Senators? Does it sound Cheney-esque? And what did Dick Cheney in his eight years to actually affect the Senate? Oh, and what would Vice President Biden do, having 35 years of experience, when the Senate decides to trip him up? Sit back and take it, or have a bit of constitutional parrying? What do you think?


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