Kamala Harris Sets Record for Most Tie-Breaking Senate Votes Cast by a Vice President

Adding to the history-making nature of Harris' monumental tie-breaking vote is that the VP who previously held the record was an outspoken defender of slavery and White supremacy

NOAH BERGER/AFP via Getty Kamala Harris
NOAH BERGER/AFP via Getty Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris has set a new record, making history twice on Tuesday as she cast her 32nd and 33rd tie-breaking votes in the U.S. Senate. In doing so, Harris surpassed a nearly 200-year-old record previously set by Vice President John C. Calhoun in 1832.

Adding to the history-making nature of the vote is that Calhoun was known for his fierce defense of slavery and White supremacy, while 59-year-old Harris — who broke his 31-vote record — is the first Black person to become vice president.

Related: Kamala Harris on Her Marriage, What Keeps Her Up at Night and the Beyoncé Song She Calls Her Anthem (Exclusive)

“The 191-year-old tiebreaking record was held by John C. Calhoun, one of the biggest proponents of slavery. It is only fitting that Vice President Harris — the first woman, the first Black American, and the first South Asian American elected Vice President — has set a new standard and brought us into the 21st century,” Assistant Democratic House Leader Jim Clyburn said in a statement released by the White House.

Clyburn continued: “This historic moment should serve as a monument to the significant progress we have made under the Biden-Harris Administration and a testament to this administration’s promise to deliver on behalf of the American people.”

Related: Vice President Kamala Harris' Career in Photos

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris walk on the White House grounds
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris walk on the White House grounds

Harris' historic vote was one to advance the nomination of Loren AliKhan to be a United States District Court Judge for the District of Columbia. Shortly afterward, Harris broke her own new record by casting a 33rd tie-breaking vote to confirm AliKhan.

A notable figure who follows closely behind Harris' record is the first-ever Vice President John Adams, who cast 29 tie-breaking votes in the Senate. In the administrations immediately preceding the present one, tie-breaking Senate votes have been rare: Mike Pence cast 13 tie-breaking votes in his entire tenure as vice president, Biden cast zero, Dick Cheney cast eight and Al Gore cast four.
“This is a history-making moment for the United States Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement issued by the White House. “When it has mattered most, Vice President Harris has provided the decisive vote on some of the most historic bills of modern times, from the American Rescue Plan to the Inflation Reduction Act, to so many federal judges who now preside and provide balance on the federal bench.”

Related: Kamala Harris: Behind the Scenes with the Vice President on Air Force Two and at the VP Residence (Exclusive)

Over the past three years, Harris has made a number of groundbreaking "firsts" — as the first woman, the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent to be elected to the vice presidency.

Speaking to PEOPLE for a recent exclusive interview, Harris acknowledged the barrier-breaking nature of her role, saying, “Some people, frankly, are limited in their ability to understand what’s possible. Some people just can’t see what they’ve never seen. And that’s okay. That’s why we have people who break ground, break glass, break barriers.”

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