VP Harris presides over rare Senate session to aid Americans fleeing Afghanistan

Vice President Kamala Harris signs bill on June 16, 2021, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Vice President Kamala Harris presided over a rare session of the Senate on Tuesday to approve aid to thousands of American citizens who fled Afghanistan amid the end of the U.S. military involvement in the country.

Harris provided a needed second vote as Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) represented majority Democrats who pushed the measure forward even though the Senate is in recess.

The bill would amend the Social Security Act to allow for increased temporary assistance to Americans returning from foreign countries like Afghanistan.

Harris gaveled the empty Senate into session, called for unanimous consent to pass the measure, then quickly returned the body to recess.

Her presence was needed because Cardin is the only senator available during the pre-Labor Day recess.

There is no indication that the bill is controversial or that Republicans oppose it.

Harris is normally called upon to play her mostly ceremonial role of presiding over the Senate when there is a possibility of a tie vote, which she can break.

The Senate is equally split between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, meaning Harris occasionally has to break the tie on party-line votes.

Some Democrats fret that they could lose control of the Senate if one of their members died or became disabled before the 2022 elections.


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