Vice President Harris breaks nearly 200-year-old record for Senate tiebreaker votes, casts her 32nd

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Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., talks with Vice President Kamala Harris after presenting Harris with a golden gavel after she cast the 32nd tie-breaking vote in the Senate, the most ever cast by a vice president, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

WASHINGTON – Vice President Kamala Harris broke a nearly 200-year-old record for casting the most tiebreaking votes in the Senate when she voted Tuesday to advance the confirmation of a new federal judge in Washington, D.C.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, called Harris’ 32nd tiebreaking vote a “great milestone.”

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Harris returned to Capitol Hill later in the day to cast her 33rd vote as well, securing the judge’s confirmation.

The previous recordholder was John C. Calhoun, who cast 31 tiebreaking votes during his eight years as vice president, from 1825 to 1832. Harris, a Democrat, tied Calhoun's record in July.

Schumer presented Harris with a golden gavel after Tuesday's vote. Harris, who beamed as she made history from the Senate dais, said afterward she was “truly honored.”

Casting tiebreaker votes is among the only constitutional duties for vice presidents, and Harris has been repeatedly called on to break deadlocks because the Senate is closely divided between Democrats and Republicans.

The pace of Harris' votes dropped off this year, when Democrats expanded their slim majority in the Senate by a single seat. But she still managed to surpass Calhoun's record in less than half the time that he took to set it.

Harris has helped advance the American Rescue Plan, which was a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief measure, and the Inflation Reduction Act, which limited the costs of prescription drugs and created financial incentives for clean energy.

Most of Harris' votes have involved President Joe Biden's judicial nominees. On Tuesday, she boosted Loren AliKhan's nomination to be a U.S. District Court judge. AliKhan was confirmed hours later.

Schumer credited Harris with helping to confirm more women and people of color to the bench to help make the judiciary “look more like America.”

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