Vice President Harris is flexing a rarely used muscle in her first weeks in office — the tiebreaker.
Harris, 56, a former Senator from California, presided over two tie-breaking votes Friday on budget resolutions that were both critical to advancing President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill.
Though Republicans may be grinding their teeth, there’s little they can do. During his time in office, former Vice President Pence himself cast 13 tie-breaking votes, a sum Harris will likely surpass if she continues at her current pace.
Tie-breaking votes are rare, with only 268 recorded since the first US Senate of 1789. Harris has already cast more tiebreakers than Harry Truman, Teddy Roosevelt and Walter Mondale, who each had one. Some veeps, like Joe Biden under President Obama, never cast a single one.
John C. Calhoun, a vice president under both Presidents John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, holds the record with 31 tiebreakers cast.
The Constitution empowers Harris to invoke her Senate voting power when votes in the chamber are deadlocked — something that is considerably more likely to happen over the next two years with the Senate evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.
Though Biden has publicly expressed his desire to see more bipartisanship in Congress, his vice president has made it know that she has no qualms about breaking ties to advance the administration’s agenda.
“I intend to work tirelessly as your vice president, including, if necessary, fulfilling this constitutional duty,” she wrote in an Op-Ed for the San Francisco Chronicle last month. “At the same time, it is my hope that rather than come to the point of a tie, the Senate will instead find common ground and do the work of the American people.”
Senate Democrats say they’re more than happy to see it and that Americans should get ready for more tiebreakers in the future.
“Democrats will desperately try to work across the aisle, but gridlock for its own gratuitous sake will not be lamented, it will be overcome with a single vote — hers,” one Democratic Senate insider told The Post.
Senate filibuster rules requiring 60 votes for passage of most legislation will likely ensure that Harris’ voting power remains rarely used.