Harris casts tiebreaking vote to advance Biden nominee

Vice President Harris cast a tiebreaking vote on Wednesday to advance a controversial Biden nominee.

The Senate was split 50-50 on whether to advance the nomination of Colin Kahl, President BidenJoe BidenAtlanta mayor won't run for reelection South Carolina governor to end pandemic unemployment benefits in June Airplane pollution set to soar with post-pandemic travel boom MORE's pick to be under secretary of Defense for policy, to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.

The tiebreaking vote was Harris's fourth overall as vice president but her first for a Biden nominee, according to data from the Office of the Secretary of the Senate.


"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 motion is agreed to. ... The nomination will be placed on the executive calendar. Thank you," Harris said while presiding over the chamber on Wednesday.

Harris elbow-bumped Sen. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperLobbying world DNC taps veteran campaign hands for communications staff Harris casts tiebreaking vote to advance Biden nominee MORE (D-Colo.) on her way up to the presiding officer's chair and later chatted with Sens. Dick DurbinDick DurbinAmerica's Jewish communities are under attack — Here are 3 things Congress can do Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel On The Money: Incomes, consumer spending soared in March | Harris, senators work behind scenes on jobs package | Biden cancels some border wall construction MORE (D-Ill.), Jack ReedJack ReedOvernight Defense: Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform | US troops begin leaving Afghanistan | Biden budget delay pushes back annual defense policy bill Biden budget delay pushes back annual defense policy bill Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap MORE (D-R.I.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), all of whom served with her in the Senate.

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHouse panel advances bipartisan retirement savings bill Democrats confront difficult prospects for midterms Biden, GOP set to find out if US wants activist government MORE (R-Ohio), who was in the chamber to give a speech on Biden's infrastructure plan, referenced Harris's presence before diving into his speech.

"I welcome the vice president, the president of the Senate, to our chamber this evening," Portman said from the floor.

Kahl is the third Biden nominee to have to be discharged to the Senate floor after a deadlocked vote in committee.


Senate Democrats previously discharged, and subsequently confirmed, Vanita Gupta to the No. 3 Justice Department post. Harris was on hand on Wednesday to help confirm Gupta, but because Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee Trump muddles Republican messaging on Afghanistan Trump drama divides GOP, muddling message MORE (R-Alaska) broke with Republicans to support the nominee, Harris ultimately did not need to cast a vote.

The Senate Armed Services Committee earlier voted 13-13 along party lines for Kahl's nomination.

Republicans unified against Kahl after criticizing him for tweets lambasting the Trump administration as well as his support for the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal.

During his confirmation hearing, Kahl apologized for the “disrespectful” language in his tweets. He also pledged to approach the Pentagon job in a nonpartisan way, saying his past government service demonstrates his ability to do so.

But Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate nixes Trump rule limiting methane regulation | Senate confirms EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead' | Fine-particle pollution disproportionately hurts people of color: research EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead' Senate confirms Pentagon policy chief criticized by Republicans for tweets MORE (R-Okla.) argued that the unified GOP opposition on the Senate Armed Services Committee was "rare" and that Kahl did not have "bipartisan credibility."


"When President Biden nominated Dr. Kahl for this position, my expectation was that if confirmed, he and I would often disagree on policy but we would actually get along together, we could coexist together," Inhofe said on Wednesday.

"But I quickly learned that this would really be impossible with Dr. Kahl," Inhofe continued. "I don't think I've ever said that about anyone, any nominee for any position that I can recall."

Rebecca Kheel contributed.