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Party Whips

Chapter 1: Party Whips
Chapter 2: Republican Party Whips
Chapter 3: Democratic Party Whips

Party Whips

Both parties in the Senate elect whips. The term "whip" comes from a fox-hunting expression— "whipper-in"—referring to the member of the hunting team responsible for keeping the dogs from straying from the team during a chase. Established early in the 20th century, the development of party whips coincided with the evolution of party leaders in the Senate.

Democrat James Hamilton Lewis of Illinois became the first party whip in 1913, and the Republicans established their own whip position two years later. Traditionally serving as assistant leaders, whips are mainly responsible for counting heads and rounding up party members for votes and quorum calls, and they occasionally stand in for the majority or minority leaders in their absence. In 1970 Republicans began referring to their whips as assistant leaders, but in 2003, they began using the whip title again. Democrats used the title whip until 2003, when they began calling the position assistant leader. In 2017 Democrats created a new position of assistant leader, which is separate from and ranks directly below the position of whip.

Republican Party Whips
WadsworthJames W. Wadsworth, Jr. (R-NY) 1915_11915
CurtisCharles Curtis (R-KS) * 1915-1924
JonesWesley L. Jones (R-WA) 1924-1929
FessSimeon D. Fess (R-OH) 1929-1933
HébertFelix Hébert (R-RI) 1933-19351
WherryKenneth S. Wherry (R-NE) * 1944-1949
SaltonstallLeverett Saltonstall (R-MA) 1949-1957
DirksenEverett M. Dirksen (R-IL) * 1957-1959
KuchelThomas H. Kuchel (R-CA) 1959-1969
ScottHugh D. Scott, Jr. (R-PA) * 1969
GriffinRobert P. Griffin (R-MI) 1969-1977
StevensTed Stevens (R-AK) 1977-1985
SimpsonAlan K. Simpson (R-WY) 1985-1995
LottTrent Lott (R-MS) * 1995-1996
NicklesDonald L. Nickles (R-OK) 1996-2003
McConnellMitch McConnell (R-KY) * 2003-2007
LottTrent Lott (R-MS) 2007
KylJon L. Kyl (R-AZ) 2008-2013
CornynJohn Cornyn (R-TX) 2013-2019
ThuneJohn Thune (R-SD) 2019-present

*Advanced to Republican party floor leader.

1 No Republican whips were appointed from 1935 to 1944 since only 17 Republicans were in the Senate following the landslide election 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."

Democratic Party Whips
LewisJames H. Lewis (D-IL) 1913–1919
GerryPeter G. Gerry (D-RI) 1919–1929
SheppardMorris Sheppard (D-TX) 1929–1933
LewisJames H. Lewis (D-IL) 1933–1939
MintonSherman Minton (D-IN) 1939–1941
HillJoseph L. Hill (D-AL) 1941–1947
LucasScott W. Lucas (D-IL) * 1947–1949
MyersFrancis J. Myers (D-PA) 1949–1951
JohnsonLyndon B. Johnson (D-TX) * 1951–1953
ClementsEarle C. Clements (D-KY) 1953–1957
MansfieldMichael J. Mansfield (D-MT) * 1957–1961
HumphreyHubert H. Humphrey, Jr. (D-MN) 1961–1965
LongRussell B. Long (D-LA) 1965–1969
KennedyEdward M. Kennedy (Ted) (D-MA) 1969–1971
ByrdRobert C. Byrd (D-WV) * 1971–1977
CranstonAlan Cranston (D-CA) 1977–1991
FordWendell H. Ford (D-KY) 1991–1999
ReidHarry Reid (D-NV) * 1999–2005
DurbinRichard J. Durbin (D-IL) 2005–present

*Advanced to Democratic party leader.