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About Parties and Leadership | Conference Secretaries


Members of each political party convene in private meetings known as party conferences (or party caucuses) to elect floor leaders, make committee assignments, and set legislative agendas. Each party elects a conference secretary, who is responsible for keeping the minutes. The party conferences first began electing a secretary in the 1890s, but a lack of surviving minutes of conference meetings makes it difficult to identify who held the positions prior to 1903 for the Democrats and 1911 for the Republicans.

Republican Conference Secretaries / Vice Chair
SenatorTerm
CurtisCharles Curtis (R-KS) 1911–1913
KenyonWilliam S. Kenyon (R-IA) 1913–1915
WadsworthJames W. Wadsworth, Jr. (R-NY) 1915–1927
HaleFrederick Hale (R-ME) 1927–1940
WhiteWallace H. White, Jr. (R-ME) 1940–1944
BurtonHarold H. Burton (R-OH) 1944–1945
GurneyChan Gurney (R-SD) 1945–1946
YoungMilton R. Young (R-ND) 1946–1971
CottonNorris H. Cotton (R-NH) 1971–1972
BennettWallace F. Bennett (R-UT) 1973–1974
StaffordRobert T. Stafford (R-VT) 1976–1976
HansenClifford P. Hansen (R-WY) 1977–1978
GarnJake Garn (R-UT) 1979–1985
CochranThad Cochran (R-MS) 1985–1991
KastenRobert W. Kasten, Jr. (R-WI) 1991–1993
LottTrent Lott (R-MS) 1993–1995
MackConnie Mack III (R-FL) 1995–1997
CoverdellPaul Coverdell (R-GA) 1997–2000
HutchisonKay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) 2001–20071
CornynJohn Cornyn (R-TX) 2007–2009
ThuneJohn Thune (R-SD) 2009_0 2009
MurkowskiLisa Murkowski (R-AK) 2009_1 2009–2010
BarrassoJohn Barrasso (R-WY) 2010 2010–2012
BluntRoy Blunt (R-MO) 2012 2012–2019
ErnstJoni Ernst (R-IA) 2019 2019–present
1. With election of Kay Bailey Hutchison, the position became known as Republican Conference Vice Chair.

Democratic Conference Secretaries
SenatorTerm
CarmackEdward W. Carmack (D-TN) 1903–1907
OwenRobert L. Owen (D-OK) 1907–1911
ChiltonWilliam E. Chilton (D-WV) 1911–1913
SaulsburyWillard Saulsbury, Jr. (D-DE) 1913–1915
PittmanKey Pittman (D-NV) 1915–19171
KingWilliam H. King (D-UT) 1917–1927
BlackHugo L. Black (D-AL) 1927–1937
LeeJoshua B. Lee (D-OK) 1937–1943
MaloneyFrancis T. Maloney (D-CT) 1943–1945
McMahonBrien McMahon (D-CT) 1945–1953
HenningsThomas C. Hennings, Jr. (D-MO) 1953–1960
SmathersGeorge A. Smathers (D-FL) 1960–1967
ByrdRobert C. Byrd (D-WV) 1967–1971
MossFrank E. Moss (Ted) (D-UT) 1971–1977
InouyeDaniel K. Inouye (D-HI) 1977–1989
PryorDavid H. Pryor (D-AR) 1989–1995
MikulskiBarbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) 1995–2005
StabenowDebbie Stabenow (D-MI) 2005–2007
MurrayPatty Murray (D-WA) 2007–2017
BaldwinTammy Baldwin (D-WI) 2017–present

1. Served as acting secretary.