Yesterday, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) sat for an interview with KUSA, an NBC affiliate in Colorado. In response to a question sent to the network by a third grader at a local elementary school about what the Vice President does, Palin erroneously argued that the Vice President is “in charge of the United States Senate“:
Q: Brandon Garcia wants to know, “What does the Vice President do?”
PALIN: That’s something that Piper would ask me! … [T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.
Indeed, while Palin suggests that questions about what the Vice President does is something only her daughter Piper would ask, Palin herself asked this very question on national television in July. Apparently, she still hasn’t learned the correct answer.
Article I of the Constitution establishes an exceptionally limited role for the Vice President – giving the office holder a vote only when the Senate is “equally divided”:
The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.
Moreover, the U.S. Senate website explains that the modern role of Vice Presidents has been to preside over the Senate “only on ceremonial occasions.” ThinkProgress contacted Senior Assistant Paliamentarian Peter Robinson, who also disputed Palin’s characterization of the Vice President’s role:
In modern practice the Vice President doesn’t really control the Senate. … If anyone has a responsibility to try to govern the Senate, it’s the responsibility of the two leaders.
The following statement comes from Jim Manley, spokesman to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):
This comment is all the more puzzling because this is at least the 2nd time she has said this. Gov Palin needs to re-read or perhaps read for the first time the Constitution. While the Vice President presides over the Senate, he or she is not in charge of it. Article 1 says 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 is part of a co-equal branch of the federal government.