02:50 - Source: CNN
Pence breaks health care tie in Senate

Story highlights

A vote on an ambassador post marked the 8th tie-breaker for Pence

Pence is on track to average 7.9 tie-breakers per year, the most in US history

John Calhoun holds the top spot, with 31 during his time as vice president

Washington CNN —  

The GOP needed to call in some backup Wednesday to push two votes across the finish line, with Republican Sens. Bob Corker and John McCain missing from the Capitol.

Vice President Mike Pence came in to cast tie-breaking votes after the Senate locked 49-49 on both a procedural vote and the confirmation vote on Kansas Gov. (and former Sen.) Sam Brownback’s nomination to serve as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.

RELATED: Mike Pence casts tie-breaking vote for 8th time

“The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative and the motion to invoke cloture is agreed to,” Pence said from the presiding officer’s chair on the floor Wednesday afternoon.

These votes put Pence on a historically record-setting pace for breaking ties all the way back to John Adams in 1789, according to data from the US Senate Historical Office.

Pence is on track to average 7.9 tie-breaking votes per year, topping Chester Arthur’s pace of 5.5 votes per year. Almost two in three vice presidents in American history cast one tie-breaking vote or fewer per year in office.

Wednesday night’s vote marked the eighth time Pence has cast a tie-breaking vote so far.

He pushed through a plan to allow states to block funding for Planned Parenthood, casting a tie-breaking vote on a procedural motion and then a second tie-breaking vote later that day on the actual legislation. He also cast the deciding vote on the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education.

One main reason the Senate is finding itself deadlocked so often is because of its slim 51 Republican-seat majority and divided GOP caucus.

Pence is currently tied for 10th place all-time in deadlock-resolving votes. John Calhoun holds the top spot, with 31 tie-breaking votes during his time as vice president, from 1825 to 1832. John Adams cast 29 deciding votes as vice president in the late 1700s.

More recently, Al Gore cast four tie-breaking votes, Dick Cheney cast eight and Joe Biden cast zero during his eight years as vice president.

The Constitution provides that the vice president also serve as the president of the Senate, who has the power to cast a vote only if the Senate is equally divided.