Party leaders of the United States Senate

Last updated on 19 October 2017

The Senate Majority and Minority Leaders are two United States Senators and members of the party leadership of the United States Senate. These leaders serve as the chief Senate spokespeople for the political parties respectively holding the majority and the minority in the United States Senate, and manage and schedule the legislative and executive business of the Senate. They are elected to their positions in the Senate by their respective party caucuses, the Senate Democratic Caucus and the Senate Republican Conference.

By rule, the Presiding Officer gives the Majority Leader priority in obtaining recognition to speak on the floor of the Senate. The Majority Leader customarily serves as the chief representative of their party in the Senate, and sometimes even in all of Congress if the House of Representatives and thus the office of Speaker of the House is controlled by the opposition party.

The Assistant Majority and Minority Leaders of the United States Senate (commonly called Senate Majority and Minority Whips) are the second-ranking members of each party's leadership. The main function of the Majority and Minority Whips is to gather votes on major issues. Because they are the second ranking members of the Senate, if there is no floor leader present, the whip may become acting floor leader. Before 1969, the official titles were Majority Whip and Minority Whip.

Current floor leaders

The Senate is currently composed of 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and 2 independents, both of whom caucus with the Democrats.

The current leaders are long-time Senators Mitch McConnell (R) from Kentucky and Chuck Schumer (D) from New York. The current Assistant Leaders/Whips are long-time Senators John Cornyn (R) from Texas and Dick Durbin (D) from Illinois.

History

The Democrats began the practice of electing floor leaders in 1920 while they were in the minority. John W. Kern was a Democratic Senator from Indiana. While the title was not official, he is considered to be the first Senate party leader from 1913 through 1917 (and in turn, the first Senate Democratic Leader), while serving concurrently as Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. In 1925 the majority (at the time) Republicans also adopted this language when Charles Curtis became the first (official) Majority Leader, although his immediate predecessor Henry Cabot Lodge is considered the first (unofficial) Senate Majority Leader.

The Constitution designates the Vice President of the United States as President of the United States Senate. The Constitution also calls for a President pro tempore to serve as the leader of the body when the President of the Senate (the Vice President) is absent. In practice, neither the Vice President nor the President pro tempore—customarily the most senior (longest-serving) Senator in the majority party—actually presides over the Senate on a daily basis; that task is given to junior Senators of the majority party. Since the Vice President may be of a different party than the majority and is not a member subject to discipline, the rules of procedure of the Senate give the presiding officer very little power and none beyond the presiding role. For these reasons, it is the Majority Leader who, in practice, manages the Senate. This is in contrast to the House of Representatives where the elected Speaker of the House has a great deal of discretionary power and generally presides over votes on bills.

List of party leaders

The Democratic Party first selected a leader in 1920. The Republican Party first formally designated a leader in 1925.

Cong-
ress
Dates Democratic Whip Democratic Leader Majority Republican Leader Republican Whip
63rd May 28, 1913 –
March 4, 1915
J. Hamilton Lewis None Democratic
← Majority
None None
64th March 4, 1915 –
December 6, 1915
December 6, 1915 –
December 13, 1915
James Wadsworth
December 13, 1915 –
March 4, 1917
Charles Curtis
65th March 4, 1917 –
March 4, 1919
66th March 4, 1919 –
April 27, 1920
Peter Gerry Republican
Majority →
Henry Cabot Lodge
Unofficial
April 27, 1920 –
March 4, 1921
Oscar Underwood
67th March 4, 1921 –
March 4, 1923
68th March 4, 1923 –
December 3, 1923
December 3, 1923 –
November 9, 1924
Joseph Taylor Robinson
November 9, 1924 –
March 4, 1925
Charles Curtis
Acting
Wesley Jones
Acting
69th March 4, 1925 –
March 4, 1927
Charles Curtis Wesley Jones
70th March 4, 1927 –
March 4, 1929
71st March 4, 1929 –
March 4, 1931
Morris Sheppard James E. Watson Simeon Fess
72nd March 4, 1931 –
March 4, 1933
73rd March 4, 1933 –
January 3, 1935
J. Hamilton Lewis Democratic
← Majority
Charles L. McNary Felix Hebert
74th January 3, 1935 –
January 3, 1937
None[Note 1]
75th January 3, 1937 –
July 14, 1937
July 22, 1937 –
January 3, 1939
Alben W. Barkley
76th January 3, 1939 –
April 9, 1939
April 9, 1939 –
January 3, 1940
Sherman Minton
January 3, 1940 –
January 3, 1941
Warren Austin
Acting
77th January 3, 1941 –
January 3, 1943
J. Lister Hill Charles L. McNary
78th January 3, 1943 –
February 25, 1944
Kenneth Wherry
February 25, 1944 –
January 3, 1945
Wallace H. White Jr.
Acting
79th January 3, 1945 –
January 3, 1947
Wallace H. White Jr.
80th January 3, 1947 –
January 3, 1949
Scott W. Lucas Republican
Majority →
81st January 3, 1949 –
January 3, 1951
Francis Myers Scott W. Lucas Democratic
← Majority
Kenneth S. Wherry Leverett Saltonstall
82nd January 3, 1951 –
January 3, 1952
Lyndon B. Johnson Ernest McFarland
January 3, 1952 –
January 3, 1953
Styles Bridges
83rd January 3, 1953 –
July 31, 1953
Earle Clements Lyndon B. Johnson Republican
Majority →
Robert A. Taft
August 3, 1953 –
January 3, 1955
William F. Knowland
84th January 3, 1955 –
January 3, 1957
Democratic
← Majority
85th January 3, 1957 –
January 3, 1959
Mike Mansfield Everett Dirksen
86th January 3, 1959 –
January 3, 1961
Everett Dirksen Thomas Kuchel
87th January 3, 1961 –
January 3, 1963
Hubert Humphrey Mike Mansfield
88th January 3, 1963 –
January 3, 1965
89th January 3, 1965 –
January 3, 1967
Russell B. Long
90th January 3, 1967 –
January 3, 1969
91st January 3, 1969 –
September 7, 1969
Ted Kennedy Hugh Scott
September 24, 1969 –
January 3, 1971
Hugh Scott Robert Griffin
92nd January 3, 1971 –
January 3, 1973
Robert Byrd
93rd January 3, 1973 –
January 3, 1975
94th January 3, 1975 –
January 3, 1977
95th January 3, 1977 –
January 3, 1979
Alan Cranston Robert Byrd Howard Baker Ted Stevens
96th January 3, 1979 –
November 1, 1979
November 1, 1979 –
March 5, 1980
Ted Stevens
Acting
March 5, 1980 –
January 3, 1981
Howard Baker
97th January 3, 1981 –
January 3, 1983
Republican
Majority →
98th January 3, 1983 –
January 3, 1985
99th January 3, 1985 –
January 3, 1987
Bob Dole Alan Simpson
100th January 3, 1987 –
January 3, 1989
Democratic
← Majority
101st January 3, 1989 –
January 3, 1991
George Mitchell
102nd January 3, 1991 –
January 3, 1993
Wendell H. Ford
103rd January 3, 1993 –
January 3, 1995
104th January 3, 1995 –
June 12, 1996
Tom Daschle Republican
Majority →
Trent Lott
June 12, 1996 –
January 3, 1997
Trent Lott Don Nickles
105th January 3, 1997 –
January 3, 1999
106th January 3, 1999 –
January 3, 2001
Harry Reid
107th January 3, 2001 –
January 20, 2001
Democratic
← Majority
January 20, 2001 –
June 6, 2001
Republican
Majority →
June 6, 2001 –
January 3, 2003[Note 2]
Democratic
← Majority
108th January 3, 2003 –
January 3, 2005
Republican
Majority →
Bill Frist Mitch McConnell
109th January 3, 2005 –
January 3, 2007
Dick Durbin Harry Reid
110th January 3, 2007 –
December 18, 2007
Democratic
← Majority
Mitch McConnell Trent Lott
December 19, 2007 –
January 3, 2009
Jon Kyl
111th January 3, 2009 –
January 3, 2011
112th January 3, 2011 –
January 3, 2013
113th January 3, 2013 –
January 3, 2015
John Cornyn
114th January 3, 2015 –
January 3, 2017
Republican
Majority →
115th January 3, 2017 –
January 3, 2019
Chuck Schumer

See also

Notes

  1. ^ No Republican whips were appointed from 1935 to 1944 since only 17 Republicans were in the Senate following the landslide reelection of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936. Accordingly, the minutes of the Republican Conference for the period state: "On motion of Senator Hastings, duly seconded and carried, it was agreed that no Assistant Leader or Whip be elected but that the chairman be authorized to appoint Senators from time to time to assist him in taking charge of the interests of the minority." A note attached to the conference minutes added: "The chairman of the conference, Senator McNary, apparently appointed Senator Austin of Vermont as assistant leader in 1943 and 1944, until the conference adopted Rules of Organization." Source: Party Whips, via Senate.gov
  2. ^ Democrats remained in control after November 25, 2002, despite a Republican majority resulting from Jim Talent's special election victory in Missouri. There was no reorganization as Senate was no longer in session. Party Division in the Senate, 1789–present, via Senate.gov

External links

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