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VP Harris casts tie-breaking vote to pass COVID relief package

Democrats in the chamber applauded after Harris announced the 51-50 vote at around 5:30 a.m.
WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris cast her first-ever tie-breaking vote in the Senate early Friday morning on a budget resolution that’s a key step toward fast-track passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan without Republican support.
“The yeas are 50. The nays are 50. The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative. And the concurrent resolution as amended is adopted,” she declared around 5:30 a.m. to the applause of fellow Democrats.
The action came after a grueling all-night session, where senators voted on amendments that could define the contours of the eventual COVID-19 aid bill. The budget now returns to the House, where it will have to be approved again due to the changes made by the Senate.

The Democrats technically have the majority, counting the tie-breaking vote of Harris, but with the chamber split 50-50, Republicans — united — could hold up legislation in committees.

This also means that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer may need to shore up the support from centrists in his caucus — including Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — to ensure he has the 50 votes needed. He can’t lose one Democrat in his caucus in order to pass legislation.

Still, Harris indicated that she hopes her trips to the Senate Chamber are seldom, as she said the Biden administration instead aims for “common ground” on legislation through bipartisanship.

“The goal is to not have to pass everything with 51 votes,” a source told CNN. “If they’re going to be votes in the Senate where the outcome isn’t known … She basically has to stay in DC. International trips, national trips to small businesses or wherever — that can’t really be happening, which is a new dynamic they’re going to have to deal with.”

Another source spoke about it in more personal terms.

“It doesn’t help her make friends long term, you know. If she’s thinking about (running in) 2024 or 2028, she’s got to think about what senators she’s going to need,” the source said.