Senate

Harris casts first tie-breaking votes as vice president

Vice President Harris cast her first tie-breaking votes early Friday morning helping Senate Democrats pass a budget resolution that greenlights them passing coronavirus relief without GOP support. 

Harris, who served in the Senate for roughly four years before stepping down to become vice president, arrived at the Capitol on Friday hours into the Senate’s all-night vote-a-rama on the budget resolution. 

Harris arrived in the chamber, swapping out with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who had been presiding. The two exchanged an elbow bump and chatted briefly. 

Harris then presided over the Senate for three votes, breaking ties on two of them. 

Harris cast her first tie-breaking vote on a final amendment from Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Republicans said the Democratic proposal stripped out three GOP amendments and opposed it, resulting in a 50-50 tie.

“On this vote, the yeas are 50, the nays are 50. The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative and the amendment is agreed to,” Harris said.

Harris then cast a second tie-breaking vote on the final passage of the budget resolution. Every Democrat voted for the proposal, while all Republicans voted against it. Because the Senate is evenly split, that resulted in the tie.  

Schumer thanked Harris for helping them pass the budget resolution after the votes. Though the budget doesn’t get signed into law, it’s a crucial first step for Democrats to be able to pass a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill without GOP support.  

“Madam Vice President … thank you so much for being part of this first big step to putting our country back on the road to recovery, and we very much appreciate you being here,” Schumer said. 

Several senators from both parties, including Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sanders, Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), stopped to chat with Harris while she was presiding over the chamber. Harris stood to hug Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). 

The resolution includes instructions for crafting the coronavirus aid bill under reconciliation, a tool that will allow the Biden proposal to bypass a 60-vote filibuster in the Senate.  

Harris’s tie-breaking votes appear to be the earliest time in modern history that a vice president has had to break a tie.

Her votes also mark the first time that a woman or African American has represented the 50-50 tie-breaking vote in the Senate.

Then-Vice President Pence broke his first tie on Feb. 7, 2017, according to data from the Senate Historical Office.

Tags Bernie Sanders Budget Charles Schumer Chris Murphy Coronavirus Cory Booker Dianne Feinstein Jim Risch Mike Lee Patrick Leahy relief bill Resolution Rob Portman tie-breaking vote vice president Vote-A-Rama

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