Senate

Harris moves within six tiebreaking votes of nearly 200-year-old record

AP-Evan Vucci
Vice President Kamala Harris listens as President Joe Biden speaks about abortion access during an event in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, July 8, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Vice President Harris cast her 25th tiebreaking vote with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act on Sunday, moving her within six votes of the almost two-century-old record held by former Vice President John Calhoun.

The Constitution stipulates the vice president also serves as president of the Senate and has the authority to break ties, which has occurred with some regularity over the past year and a half given the 50-50 makeup of the upper chamber.

Harris has already cast more tiebreakers than almost any other vice president, except for John Adams and Calhoun, who served from 1825 to 1832.

Calhoun has held the record of 31 tiebreaking votes since his tenure as vice president under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. John Adams, who served as vice president for nearly eight years under George Washington, cast 29 tiebreakers.

Harris, however, has cast more tiebreakers than Adams or Calhoun at the equivalent times in their vice presidencies.

She has primarily broken ties to confirm President Biden’s nominees, although she has also appeared at the Senate dais for other 50-50 splits, like when she voted to begin debate on the American Rescue Plan.

Harris’s role as tie breaker came into the spotlight again on Sunday, when she broke the tie to advance a long-awaited $740 billion bill that includes provisions to raise corporate taxes, confront climate change, lower prescription drug costs and reduce the federal deficit. Her vote was met with applause from the chamber.

The bill’s passage in the Senate first required the support of all 50 Democrats, given all Republicans were united in opposition.

The Biden administration and Senate Democratic leadership had been hoping to pass a larger reconciliation package last year, dubbed Build Back Better, but the bill was doomed after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) declined to support the package.

Manchin had been negotiating behind closed doors in recent months for the slimmed-down reconciliation package, which passed the Senate on Sunday after gaining the support of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), the final Democratic holdout.

The reconciliation package now heads to the House for consideration.

How often Harris casts a deciding vote during the remainder of Biden’s term will largely depend on the outcome of this year’s Senate midterm elections.

Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has predicted a close race for the Senate majority.

“I think it’s going to be very tight. We have a 50-50 nation. And I think when this Senate race smoke clears, we’re likely to have a very, very close Senate still, with us up slightly or the Democrats up slightly,” McConnell said Wednesday on Fox New’s “Special Report.” 

Tags Biden John Adams John Calhoun John Quincy Adams Kamala Harris Mitch McConnell reconciliation package tie breaker
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