Party leaders of the United States Senate

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Majority Leader of the
United States Senate
Harry Reid official portrait 2009 crop.jpg
Harry Reid (D)

since January 3, 2007
Inaugural holderCharles Curtis (R)
FormationMarch 4, 1925
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Majority Leader of the
United States Senate
Harry Reid official portrait 2009 crop.jpg
Harry Reid (D)

since January 3, 2007
Inaugural holderCharles Curtis (R)
FormationMarch 4, 1925
Minority Leader of the
United States Senate
Mitch McConnell official portrait 112th Congress.jpg
Mitch McConnell (R)

since January 3, 2007
Inaugural holderOscar Underwood (D)
FormationApril 27, 1920
Majority Whip of the
United States Senate
Democratic Whip
Richard Durbin official photo.jpg
Richard Durbin

since January 3, 2007
Inaugural holderJ. Hamilton Lewis
Minority Whip of the
United States Senate
Republican Whip
John Cornyn official portrait, 2009.jpg
John Cornyn

since January 3, 2013
Inaugural holderJames Wadsworth, Jr.
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Politics and government of
the United States

The Senate Majority and Minority Leaders are two United States Senators who are elected by the party conferences that hold the majority and the minority respectively. These leaders serve as the chief Senate spokespeople for their parties and manage and schedule the legislative and executive business of the Senate. 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 his or her party in 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 the party leadership of the United States Senate. The main function of the Majority and Minority Whips is to gather votes on major issues. Because he or she is the second ranking member 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.

Many state senates are organized in the same way as the United States Senate.



Per 19 U.S.C. § 2191(c)(1), an implementing bill for a Fast track negotiating authority (Trade Promotion Authority) trade agreement submitted by the President is introduced (by request) in the House by the majority leader of the House and (by request) in the Senate by the majority leader of the Senate.

Current floor leaders[edit]

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

The current leaders are Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The current Assistant Majority Leader is Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois. The current Assistant Minority Leader is Republican John Cornyn of Texas.


The Democrats began the practice of electing floor leaders in 1920 while they were in the minority. John Worth Kern (December 20, 1849 – August 17, 1917) was a Democratic United States Senator from Indiana. While the title was not official, he is considered to be the first Senate Majority leader (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[citation needed], although his immediate predecessor Henry Cabot Lodge is considered the first (unofficial) Majority Leader.

The Constitution designates the Vice President of the United States as President of the 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, in part so they may learn proper procedure. For these reasons, it is the Majority Leader who in practice manages the Senate.[citation needed]

List of party leaders[edit]

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

DatesDemocratic WhipDemocratic LeaderMajorityRepublican LeaderRepublican Whip
631913 – 1915J. Hamilton LewisNone← D MajNoneNone
641915 – ? 1915James Wadsworth, Jr.
1915 ? – 1917Charles Curtis
651917 – 1919
661920 – 1921Peter GerryOscar UnderwoodR Maj →Henry Cabot Lodge (unofficial)
671921 – 1923
68March 4, 1923 – November 9, 1924Joseph Taylor Robinson
1925Charles CurtisWesley Jones
691925 – 1927
701927 – 1929
711929 – 1931Morris SheppardJames E. WatsonSimeon Fess
721931 – 1933
731933 – 1935J. Hamilton Lewis← D MajCharles L. McNaryFelix Hebert
741935 – 1937None[1]
75January 3, 1937 – July 14, 1937
July 22, 1937 – January 3, 1939Alben W. Barkley
761939Sherman Minton
1940Warren Austin (acting)
771941 – 1943Lister HillCharles L. McNary
781943 – 1945Wallace H. White Jr. (acting)Kenneth Wherry
791945 – 1947Wallace H. White Jr.
801947 – 1949Scott LucasR Maj →
811949 – 1951Francis MyersScott W. Lucas← D MajKenneth S. WherryLeverett Saltonstall
821951 – 1952Lyndon JohnsonErnest McFarland
1952 – 1953Styles Bridges
83January 3, 1953 – July 31, 1953Earle ClementsLyndon B. JohnsonR Maj →Robert A. Taft
August 3, 1953 – January 3, 1955William F. Knowland
841955 – 1957← D Maj
851957 – 1959Mike MansfieldEverett Dirksen
861959 – 1961Everett M. DirksenThomas Kuchel
871961 – 1963Hubert HumphreyMike Mansfield
881963 – 1965
891965 – 1967Russell Long
901967 – 1969
91January 3, 1969 – September 7, 1969Ted KennedyHugh Scott
September 24, 1969 – January 3, 1971Hugh ScottRobert Griffin
921971 – 1973Robert Byrd
931973 – 1975
941975 – 1977
951977 – 1979Alan CranstonRobert ByrdHoward BakerTed Stevens
961979 – 1981
971981 – 1983R Maj →
981983 – 1985
991985 – 1987Bob DoleAlan Simpson
1001987 – 1989← D Maj
1011989 – 1991George Mitchell
1021991 – 1993Wendell Ford
1031993 – 1995
104January 3, 1995 – June 12, 1996Tom DaschleR Maj →Trent Lott
June 12, 1996 – January 3, 1997Trent LottDon Nickles
1051997 – 1999
1061999 – 2001Harry Reid
107January 3 – 20, 2001← D Maj
January 20 – June 6, 2001R Maj →
June 6, 2001 – January 3, 2003[2]← D Maj
1082003 – 2005R Maj →Bill FristMitch McConnell
1092005 – 2007Richard DurbinHarry Reid
110January 3, 2007 – December 18, 2007← D MajMitch McConnellTrent Lott
December 19, 2007 – January 3, 2009Jon Kyl
1112009 – 2011
1122011 – 2013
1132013 – 2015John Cornyn
DatesDemocratic WhipDemocratic LeaderMajorityRepublican LeaderRepublican Whip

See also[edit]


  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 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
  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

External links[edit]