WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday cast her fifth and sixth tie-breaking votes in the Senate while in office.
As vice president of the U.S., Harris is also the president of the Senate. Part of her duties include voting to break ties on bills, court nominees and Cabinet appointments. However, Harris only has the authority to vote when the Senate is deadlocked at 50-50.
When Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff unseated two Republicans in Georgia's Jan. 5 runoff election, the Senate became evenly split between both parties. Harris' position automatically gave Democrats control of the chamber.
In the past Harris herself has said she hopes she won't be breaking too many ties. When he was vice president, Biden himself never broke any ties in the Senate. Former Vice President Mike Pence broke 13 ties – the most by a Senate president in nearly 150 years.
Here are all the times that Harris has cast a tie-breaking vote as Senate president.
Twice on Feb. 5, 2021
In the early morning of Feb. 5, Harris broke the tie in the Senate to adopt an amendment proposed by Sen. Chuck Schumer on a budget resolution.
"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.
Shortly after her tie-breaking vote on the amendment, Harris voted on final passage of the budget resolution that allowed Democrats to fast-track President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 package relief without Republican support.
Biden introduced the spending package in January. It aims to speed distribution of the coronavirus vaccines and provide economic relief from the coronavirus pandemic.
March 4, 2021
Harris broke a 50-50 tie to send Biden's COVID-19 stimulus bill to debate. “It’s time to move forward with this legislation, which will be one of the largest antipoverty bills in recent history,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
Biden signed the stimulus bill into law a week later. The final legislation included direct payments of up to $1,400 for individuals, billions to help schools and colleges reopen, and funding for vaccine distribution.
"I believe this… historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people of this nation – working people, middle class folks, people that built the country – a fighting chance," Biden said, before signing the bill from the Oval Office as Harris stood behind him.
April 21, 2021
Harris cast her first tie-breaking vote for a Biden nominee. She voted to advance Colin Kahl's nomination to be the Pentagon’s undersecretary for policy.
Kahl was Biden's third Pentagon nominee to gain Senate approval, according to Politico.
Republicans were opposed to Kahl's nomination due to his social media posts criticizing the Trump administration. During his confirmation hearing, Republicans brought up Kahl's tweets on how the "Republican party has debased itself at the altar of Trump," CNN reported.
He was eventually confirmed in a 49-45 party-line vote.
Twice on June 22, 2021
After a 50-50 split, Harris voted to advance the nomination of civil-rights lawyer Kiran Arjandas Ahuja, President Joe Biden's nominee to be director of the Office of Personnel Management. Later, Harris cast the deciding vote for Ahuja to be confirmed as director of the OPM.
Republicans criticized Ahuja due to her ties to critical race theory. Ahuja hosted an event with anti-racism activist Ibram X. Kendi through her non-profit organization Philanthropy Northwest.
An Obama administration veteran, Ahuja led the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders initiative in the Obama White House and worked in the OPM from 2015 to 2017, according to the Washington Post.
Contributing: Ledyard King, Maureen Groppe