Party leaders of the United States Senate

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Party leaders of the U.S. Senate
Mitch McConnell close-up.JPG
Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell (R)
John Thune, official portrait, 111th Congress (cropped).jpg
Majority Whip
John Thune (R)
Chuck Schumer official photo (cropped).jpg
Minority Leader
Chuck Schumer (D)
Richard Durbin official photo (cropped).jpg
Minority Whip
Dick Durbin (D)

The Senate Majority Leader and Minority Leader are two United States senators and members of the party leadership of the United States Senate. They serve as the chief Senate spokespersons for their respective political parties holding the majority and the minority in the United States Senate. They also manage and schedule the legislative and executive business of the Senate. They are each elected as Majority Leader and Minority Leader by the Senators of their party caucuses: the Senate Democratic Caucus and the Senate Republican Conference.

Contents

By Senate precedent, the Presiding Officer gives the Majority Leader priority in obtaining recognition to speak on the floor of the Senate. The Majority Leader serves as the chief representative of his or her party in the Senate. They also serve as the chief representative of their party in the entire 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 Assistant Minority Leaders of the United States Senate, commonly called Whips, are the second-ranking members of each party's leadership. The main function of the Majority and Minority Whips is to gather votes of their respective parties on major issues. As the second-ranking members of Senate leadership, if there is no floor leader present, the Whip may become acting floor leader.

Current floor leaders

The Senate is currently composed of 51 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and 2 independents, both of whom caucus with the Democrats.

The current leaders are Senators Mitch McConnell (R) from Kentucky and Chuck Schumer (D) from New York. The current Assistant Leaders, or Whips, are Senators John Thune (R) from South Dakota and Dick Durbin (D) from Illinois.

History

Senate Democrats began the practice of electing their 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, the Senate website identifies Kern as the first Senate party leader, serving in that capacity from 1913 through 1917 (and in turn, the first Senate Democratic Leader), while serving concurrently as Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. [1] In 1925, the Republicans (who were in the majority at the time) also adopted this language when Charles Curtis became the first (official) Majority Leader, [2] although his immediate predecessor Henry Cabot Lodge is considered the first (unofficial) Senate Majority Leader.

The United States 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 Senate leader 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 from the majority and is not a Senate 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 legislative bills.[ citation needed ]

List of party leaders

The Democratic Party first selected a leader in 1920. The Republican Party first formally designated a leader in 1925. [3]

Congress DatesDemocratic WhipDemocratic LeaderMajorityRepublican LeaderRepublican Whip
63rd May 28, 1913
March 4, 1915
J. Hamilton Lewis NoneDemocratic
← majority
NoneNone
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 [lower-alpha 1]
75th January 3, 1937
July 14, 1937
July 14, 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
November 12, 2002
Democratic
← majority
November 12, 2002
January 3, 2003
[lower-alpha 2]
Republican

majority →
108th January 3, 2003
January 3, 2005
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
116th January 3, 2019
January 3, 2021
John Thune
117th January 3, 2021
present
TBD [lower-alpha 3]
January 3, 2023
Democratic
majority ←
Congress DatesDemocratic WhipDemocratic LeaderMajorityRepublican LeaderRepublican Whip

See also

Notes

  1. No Republican whips were appointed from 1935 to 1944 since the Senate had only 17 Republicans 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." [4]
  2. Between November 25, 2002 and January 3, 2003, during the 107th Congress, Democrats remained in control, despite a Republican majority resulting from Jim Talent's special election victory in Missouri. There was no reorganization as the Senate was not in session. [5]
  3. After two runoffs in Georgia (one regular election and one special election), the composition of the Senate will be 50–50 once Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock, and Alex Padilla (Kamala Harris's successor) are sworn in. Since Harris can break ties as President of the Senate, the majority will switch to the Democrats at this point.

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References

  1. "Majority and Minority Leaders". senate.gov. United States Senate. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  2. "Senate Leader". senate.gov. United States Senate. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  3. "Majority and Minority Leaders". United States Senate. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  4. Party Whips Archived March 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine , via Senate.gov
  5. Party Division in the Senate, 1789–present, via Senate.gov