Harris’s position as President of the Senate gives her more power than she’s ever had before — and more power than almost anyone else in Washington D.C.
Harris flexed that power early Friday morning by taking control and breaking the tie in a Senate vote on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus proposal — forcing the bill through without bipartisan support.
Though the 51-50 vote is not the final word on the package, Harris’s vote ensures that it will proceed to pass the bill under budget reconciliation rules, a ploy to pass legislation without giving the GOP a say in the matter.
Although Democrats hold the power in the Senate, they did allow a modification at Sen. Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) request — backing down on a $15 federal minimum wage hike, which GOP legislators and strategists warned would be devastating to small businesses attempting to recover from coronavirus.
The concession likely helped swing vote Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), one of the more moderate Democrats in the chamber, to vote with his Democrat colleagues on Biden’s massive funding giveaway.
Manchin’s position as a representative of one of the most solidly red states in the US puts him in a precarious position as the Democrat party veers left. He’s opposed a number of Democrat pet projects, such as court-packing and abolishing the filibuster, forcing Democrats to make concessions to his objections rather than those of Senate Republicans.
Kamala Harris herself almost derailed the plan just days ago by going behind Manchin’s back and urging West Virginians to support Biden’s coronavirus deal and pressure their representatives to vote in favor of it in an interview on a WV radio station last week.
Manchin responded by noting that she didn’t even “call” him before pressuring his constituents via radio program. “That’s not a way of working together, what was done,” he said after the fact.
Though Manchin indicated that he was displeased with Harris’s ham-fisted intervention, he didn’t let that stop him from voting for the measure — despite promises just days ago that “we’re gonna make this work in a bipartisan way.”