Even as vice president, Mike Pence is still voting in Congress to harm America.
Mike Pence is casting tie-breaking votes in the U.S. Senate at a record-breaking pace, exercising his power at a rate far exceeding his predecessors. These votes have been in service of the agenda of the far right, the movement he rose to power through over the last decade and a half in American politics.
Pence has occupied the vice presidency for a year, and in that brief time, he has voted eight times to break ties in the Senate. He is on pace to average the most tie-breaking votes in U.S. history.
Of his eight votes, five have been in service of the religious right agenda Pence personally and aggressively promoted when he was still a member of Congress and then as governor of Indiana, where advocated for and signed religious discrimination against LGBT Americans into state law.
The number of votes is a departure from the preceding five vice presidents. Joe Biden and Dan Quayle did not cast a single tie-breaking vote. Dick Cheney cast only one tie-breaking vote during his eight years in office. In their two terms, Al Gore cast only four, and George H.W. Bush, while vice president, cast seven.
Pence’s most recent vote in the Senate was to confirm Sam Brownback as ambassador at large for international religious freedom. Pence voted to back Brownback twice: once to force a vote on his nomination, then on the nomination itself.
Brownback faced enormous skepticism from Democrats because of his radical war on reproductive and LGBT rights while serving as governor of Kansas and as a U.S. Senator, repeatedly demonstrating intolerance for non-Christian religions.
But with Pence’s thumb on the scales, Brownback received a green light from the Trump administration and Senate Republicans.
Pence also pushed through legislation that handed out tax breaks to private schools and homeschoolers favored by the religious right. He voted twice for legislation to allow Republican legislators to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the right’s biggest boogeymen.
Pence’s other votes were also in service to other conservative constituencies. He pushed for the failed repeal of Obamacare. He voted to allow banks and credit card companies to avoid facing customers that they ripped off in court.
And he voted in favor of the nomination of Betsy DeVos to serve as education secretary, even after her disastrous nomination hearing and widespread concerns about her hostility to the civil rights of students.
In many ways, despite his title as vice president, Pence is voting in Congress just like he did when he represented Indiana’s 6th Congressional District and was a reliable culture warrior for the extremist edge of the right.
Mike Pence, despite his attempts to work below the radar and stealthily twist policy and events in favor of the right’s fringes, is as always a complicit actor with a major role in pushing America down an intolerant path.