Vice President Cheney cast the deciding vote after the Senate split 50-50 on the $40 billion budget-cutting bill today. I wrote a few paragraphs on Article I, Section 3, Clause 4 ("The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.") for Heritage Guide to the Constitution, edited by Forte and Spalding, just recently published. Giving the VP this power, argued George Mason at the Convention, was a violation of the separation of powers. Roger Sherman responded: "If the Vice President were not to be President of the Senate, he would be without employment." (Obviously, this is kind of amusing, given that Dick Cheney is one of the most influential VP’s ever.) This allowed the Senate to come to a definitive result at all times, because the VP would break tie votes. And it also preserved the equality of the states in the Senate, because if a senator were chosen to preside with such power, he would have more power than the other senators. There have been over 200 votes cast by VP’s (Adams, the first to cast such votes, also cast the most).
$40 billion dollars. If I heard right, this is over 5 years. So call it $8 billion dollars a year. I know it is a lot of money to me but for a $2.5 trillion/year government, it is barely a close shave.
It might be a step in the right direction but I wager an ice cold lager it is more like a wink. Nothing more than the appearance of smoothing the feathers of the budget cutting hawks.