Dec 5, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Kamala Harris breaks record for most tiebreaking Senate votes by VP

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer presents Vice President Kamala Harris with a "golden gavel" after she cast her 32nd tie-breaking vote in the Senate at the Capitol on Dec 5. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday broke the record for the most tie-breaking Senate votes cast by a vice president.

The big picture: The 32 votes break a nearly 200-year-old record set by former Vice President John C. Calhoun in 1832, per Senate records.

Driving the news: The 32nd vote was to advance the nomination of Loren L. AliKhan for the district court of the District of Columbia.

  • A confirmation vote is expected later Tuesday.
  • If confirmed, AliKhan will be the first South Asian woman to serve on the D.C. district court.

What they're saying: Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) presented Harris with a golden gavel to commemorate the record.

  • "Today is historic," Schumer said. "Every time duty has called, Vice President Harris has answered – more than any other vice president in our nation's long and storied history."
  • He added that without her tie-breaking votes, the Inflation Reduction Act and the American Rescue Plan would not have passed.

Context: The Senate was evenly split between parties when President Biden took office in 2021, giving the VP a pivotal role in breaking ties as president of the Senate. (Harris also was previously a U.S. senator from California.)

  • Democrats retained narrow control of the upper chamber during the midterm elections and gained an additional seat with John Fetterman's win in Pennsylvania.
  • Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona soon after left the party to become an independent — a gut punch for Democrats just three days after they secured a 51-49 majority.

Go deeper: Harris allies hit back at Democratic critics

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