Members of each major party meet in closed sessions known as party conferences (or party caucuses) to elect floor leaders, make committee assignments, and set legislative agendas. The Democratic Leader serves as chair of the party conference, while the Republican party separates the positions, electing a chairperson for the party conference, apart from the Floor leader.
Democratic Conference Chair: Senator Harry Reid
Republican Conference Chair: Senator John Thune
See a list of former Conference Chairs in the History section.
The Senate created Democratic and Republican Policy Committees in 1947. Until 2000, the Democratic Policy Committee was chaired by the party floor leader, who also served as chair of the Democratic Conference. A co-chair position was added in 1989. In the 106th Congress, the majority leader dropped his co-chair status and the chair of the policy committee is now an elected post. The Republican Policy Committee elects its chairperson separate from the party floor leader.
Democratic Policy Committee Chair: Senator Charles Schumer
Republican Policy Committee Chair: Senator John Barrasso
See a list of former Policy Committee chairs in the History section.
Party Conference Secretaries
Each party elects a Conference Secretary or Vice Chairman who is responsible for keeping the Minutes of the party conferences.
Democrat Conference Secretary: Senator Patty Murray
Republican Conference Vice-Chair: Senator Roy Blunt
See a list of former Conference Secretaries in the History section.