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 MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenators in the dark on parliamentarian's decision Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents Giffords group unveils gun violence memorial on National Mall MORE (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 SchumerChuck Schumer'Real Housewives of the GOP' — Wannabe reality show narcissists commandeer the party 'Building Back Better' requires a new approach to US science and technology Pew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy: Treasury creates hub to fight climate change through finance | Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez introduce 'Green New Deal for Public Housing' | Don't attack Zoom for its Bernie Sanders federal tax bill Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez introduce 'Green New Deal for Public Housing' MORE (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 LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Democrats call on Biden to restore oversight of semiautomatic and sniper rifle exports Bottom line Congress brings back corrupt, costly, and inequitably earmarks MORE (D-Vt.), Cory BookerCory BookerBass 'hopeful' on passing police reform: 'Republicans that I am working with are operating in good faith' Progressive lawmakers press DHS chief on immigration detention Democrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico MORE (D-N.J.), Sanders, Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: Apple approves Parler's return to App Store | White House scales back response to SolarWinds, Microsoft incidents | Pressure mounts on DHS over relationship with Clearview AI 15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban Apple approves Parler's return to App Store MORE (R-Utah), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP Rep. Steve Stivers plans to retire Kellyanne Conway joins Ohio Senate candidate's campaign OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds MORE (R-Ohio) and Jim RischJim Elroy RischGOP lawmakers block Biden assistance to Palestinians Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows The Hill's Morning Report - Biden shifts on filibuster MORE (R-Idaho), stopped to chat with Harris while she was presiding over the chamber. Harris stood to hug Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate Democrats call on Biden to restore oversight of semiautomatic and sniper rifle exports Overnight Defense: Army moves to combat sexual crimes | Eight West Point cadets expelled | Democratic senators want to restrict F-35 sale to UAE A proposal to tackle congressional inside trading: Invest in the US MORE (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.