An unusual scene occurred on the House floor this week as the chamber’s vote tally came to a tie at 215 to 215 when three House Republicans joined Democrats to oppose an effort to impeach Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Although the impasse was, as a fourth House Republicans changed his vote to oppose the bill in a procedural move that allows leadership to bring the legislation up again at a later date, it brought forward an issue that could come up again with a razor-thin Republican majority in the lower chamber — what happens if there’s a tie vote in the House?
What a tie vote means in the House
According to House rules, in the case of a tie vote, a question before the chamber “shall be lost.” In the lower chamber, where Republicans hold just a slim majority and often see a handful of defections among their conference, there’s no tie-breaker. Unlike in the Senate, where a tie-breaking vote may be cast, no one is brought in to resolve the issue.
Breaking a tie vote in the Senate
In the upper chamber, which sees tie votes with more regularity, the Vice President is called upon to cast tie-breaking votes. In recent years, with a narrow Democratic majority in the Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris has on more than 30 occasions, breaking the record set almost 200 years ago.