VP Harris Breaks Senate Ties, Creating History
Political US

VP Harris Breaks Senate Ties, Creating History

kamala harris

Vice President Kamala Harris has achieved yet another milestone in U.S. history, matching a 191-year-old record for casting tie-breaking votes. On July 12, Harris backed the nomination of Kalpana Kotagal, an Indian-origin nominee, for a position within a federal agency, equalling the record set by Senator John C. Calhoun.

Harris, who made history as the first woman and person of color to hold the position in 2020, matched the record previously held by Calhoun, a Democratic-Republican who served as Vice President under Presidents John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson from 1825 to 1832. The Vice President cast her vote in the Senate, supporting Kotagal’s nomination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination based on various factors.

By breaking a 50-50 tie in the Senate, Harris has now cast a total of 31 tie-breaking votes since assuming office, equaling the record set by Calhoun. As outlined in the Constitution, the Vice President’s role includes presiding over the Senate and resolving ties in the event of a deadlock. In the current 118th Congress, Democrats hold 51 seats, while Republicans hold 49.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hailed Harris’s achievement, acknowledging the historic moment she has created by providing the decisive vote on significant bills, such as the American Rescue Plan and the Inflation Reduction Act. He also praised her role in confirming federal judges who bring balance to the judiciary. Schumer commended Harris for her exceptional execution of her duties as Vice President.

Throughout her tenure, Harris has cast numerous tie-breaking votes, including those in support of nominations for federal judgeships, such as Natasha Merle and Araceli Martinez-Olguin. In the initial two years of her vice presidency, when the Senate was evenly divided, Harris garnered the nickname “101st Senator,” emphasizing her pivotal role. She cast her first tie-breaking vote just three weeks into her term in February 2021. Harris set a new record with 15 tie-breaking votes in her first year, surpassing the 13 cast by her predecessor, Mike Pence, during his entire vice presidency.

Kalpana Kotagal, the nominee supported by Harris, is the daughter of Indian immigrants. She serves as a partner at Cohen Milstein, specializing in civil rights and employment law. Kotagal also co-chairs the firm’s Hiring and Diversity Committee and is well-known as a co-author of the “Inclusion Rider,” a seminal legal template. Her expertise lies in matters related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as she represents individuals facing employment and civil rights litigation under laws such as Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Kamala Harris’s background reflects her deep connection to diverse communities. Born to a Jamaican father and an Indian mother named Shyamala Gopalan, who pursued higher education in the U.S., Harris’s mother made significant contributions as a breast cancer researcher before her untimely death from the disease in 2009. Harris’s father, Donald Harris, is a Jamaican American professor of economics.

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