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Vice president breaks nearly 200-year-old record for Senate tiebreaker votes

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer presents Vice President Kamala Harris with a golden gavel (Stephanie Scarbrough/AP)
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer presents Vice President Kamala Harris with a golden gavel (Stephanie Scarbrough/AP)

Vice President Kamala Harris broke a nearly 200-year-old record for casting the most tiebreaking votes in the Senate when she voted to confirm a new federal judge in Washington, DC.

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

The previous record-holder was John C Calhoun, who cast 31 tie-breaking votes during his eight years as vice president, from 1825 to 1832.

Ms Harris, a Democrat, tied Mr Calhoun’s record in July.

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

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

The pace of Ms 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 Mr Calhoun’s record in less than half the time that he took to set it.

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

Most of Ms Harris’ votes have involved President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees. On Tuesday, she boosted Loren AliKhan’s nomination to be a US District Court judge.

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