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Party Leadership


Majority and Minority Leaders

The positions of party floor leaders, or majority leader and minority leader, are not included in the Constitution. Rather, these party leadership positions developed gradually over the course of the 20th century. The Senate designated its first Democratic floor leader in 1920 and its first Republican leader in 1925. The majority leader schedules the daily legislative agenda.



Party Whips

Party whips are assistant floor leaders, elected by the party conference, who help the majority and minority leaders track votes on important legislation. In the absence of a party floor leader, the whip often serves as acting floor leader.



Senators John P. Hale and John W. Stevenson

Conference Chairpersons

Members of each major party convene in private meetings known as party conferences (or party caucuses) to elect floor leaders, make committee assignments, and set legislative agendas.  The Democratic floor 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.



Senators Robert Taft and Alben Barkley

Policy Committee Chairpersons

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.



Senate Chamber Map

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. The Conference Secretary is responsible for keeping the minutes of these meetings.



Side by side photographs of Senators Ted Stevens and J. Bennett Johnston

Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairs

Democrats and Republicans in the Senate appoint campaign committees to raise funds for congressional elections. Chaired by senators, these committees distribute funds to incumbent senators and promising candidates.