Senate leadership

From OpenCongress Wiki

Jump to: navigation, search


This page focuses on the positions which comprise the leadership of the U.S. Senate.

Contents

Current Senate Leadership

Democratic Leadership

The Senate Democratic caucus selected the following members to serve as their leadership in the 111th Congress:

Position Member
President of the Senate Joe Biden (Vice President of the United States)
Majority Leader
Chairman of Democratic Caucus
Harry Reid (Nev.)
Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.)
Vice-chair of Democratic Caucus Charles Schumer (N.Y)
Chairman of DSCC Robert Menendez (N.J.)
Conference secretary Patty Murray (Wash.)
Chair of the steering committee Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)

Republican Leadership

The Senate Republican caucus selected the following members to serve as their leadership in the 111th Congress:

Position Member
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.)
Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.)
Conference Chair Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)
Conference Vice-Chair John Thune (S.D.)
Policy Committee Chairman TBD
Chairman of the NRSC John Cornyn (Texas)

Senate Majority Leader

The Senate Majority Leader is the highest ranking member of the majority party in the U.S. Senate. A senator is elected to the post at the beginning of each Congress by members of his/her respective party conference. The Majority Leader is responsible for representing the interests of the majority party on the Senate floor, and also for speaking on behalf of the Senate as an institution. In addition, the leader works with committee leaders and ranking members, schedules business on the floor by calling bills from the calendar, and keeps members of his party advised about the daily legislative program. In consultation with the Minority Leader, the leader also advocates "unanimous consent" agreements by which the Senate limits the amount of time for debate and divides that time between the parties. [1]

The leader spends much of his/her time on or near the Senate floor, and is responsible for opening the day's proceedings, keeping legislation moving, and protecting the rights and interests of party members. When several senators seek recognition simultaneously, the presiding officer in the Senate will call on the Majority Leader first, then on the Senate Minority Leader, followed by the managers of the bill being debated. This right of first recognition enables the majority leader to offer amendments, substitutes, and motions to reconsider before any other senator. Former Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) called first recognition, "the most potent weapon in the Majority Leader's arsenal." [2]

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is the Majority Leader for the 110th Congress.

Parliamentary devices

Senate Rule XIII

According to Senate Rule XIII, members voting with the majority are afforded certain priviledges. It states, "Any member on the winning side of any vote has the right to move to reconsider that vote within three days after the vote. If he/she does so, that motion is then put on the Senate calendar." After this movement to reconsider is made, its consideration can be triggered without debate. For a member on the losing side of a vote, he/she must go through all necessary procedural hurdles, such as filing a new motion. Once this occurs, it takes a set amount of time (often days or weeks) for a motion to be reconsidered. [3]

While this parliamentary tactic applies to all members, it has become an important tool for Senate majority leaders, for they control the calendar of the chamber. Former Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) frequently voted with Democrats on occasions in which he realized a Republican motion was headed for failure, giving himself the ability to easily reconsider the measure again in the near future. [4] After the Democrats took control of the Senate following the 2006 congressional elections, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) used the tactic as well. In one instance, he voted with Republicans on a motion for cloture on a resolution opposing a troop level increase in Iraq. [5]

Senate Minority Leader

The Senate Minority Leader is the highest ranking member of the minority party in the U.S. Senate. Similar to the Majority Leader, a senator is elected to the post at the beginning of each Congress by members of his/her respective party conference. While the post has no official Constitutional responsibilities, historically the Minority Leader is responsible for representing the interests of the minority party both on the Senate floor and in the public. It is the goal of any Minority Leader to maintain cohesion among the members in terms of policy advancements. In addition, the leader works with committee leaders and ranking members, and in consultation with the Senate Majority Leader, also advocates “unanimous consent” agreements by which the Senate limits the amount of time for debate and divides that time between the parties. [6]

The leader spends much of his/her time on or near the Senate floor. When several senators seek recognition simultaneously, the presiding officer in the Senate will call on the Majority Leader first, then on the Minority Leader, followed by the managers of the bill being debated. [7]

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kent.) is the Minority Leader for the 110th Congress.

Senate Whips

In the Senate, members of both the majority and minority party elect a Whip at the commencement of each Congress. The term "Whip" is originally derived from the British fox hunting term "whipper in," which described the person responsible for keeping the foxhounds from leaving the pack. The title was first used in the British House of Commons in the late 1700s to describe the officials responsible for gathering votes on a given issue. [8]

Both the Senate Majority Whip and Senate Minority Whip are primarily responsible for building support among the party's members on key issues. When the Majority Leader cannot be present on the Senate floor, the Majority Whip often serves as the acting floor leader. [9]

For the 110th Congress, Sen. Dick Durbin is the Majority Whip, while Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) is the Minority Whip. [10]

Past Senate leadership

110th Congress (2007-2008)

Democratic leadership for the 110th Congress

PositionMember
Majority Leader
Chair of the Democratic Conference
Harry Reid (Nev.)
Majority WhipDick Durbin (Ill.)
Conference Secretary*Patty Murray (Wash.)
Vice-Chairman of the Conference*Chuck Schumer (N.Y.)
Steering Committee Chairperson*Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)
DSCC Chairperson*Chuck Schumer (N.Y.)

Republican leadership for the 110th Congress

PositionMember
Minority LeaderMitch McConnell (Ky.)
Minority WhipTrent Lott (Miss.)
Conference Chairperson*Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)
Policy Committee Chair*Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas)
Conference Vice-Chairperson*John Cornyn (Texas)
Chairman of NRSC*John Ensign (Nev.)

*Position is not an official Senate leadership position but is part of the conference leadership


109th Congress (2005-2006)

Republican leadership for the 109th Congress

PositionMember
Majority Leader
Chair of the Republican Conference
Bill Frist (Tenn.)
Majority WhipMitch McConnell (Ky.)
Conference Secretary*Rick Santorum (Pa.)
Vice-Chairman of the Conference*Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas)
Policy Committee Chairman*Jon Kyl (Ariz.)
RNSC Chairwoman*Elizabeth Dole (N.C.)

Democratic leadership for the 109th Congress

PositionMember
Minority Leader
Chairman of Democratic Conference
Harry Reid (Nev.)
Minority WhipDick Durbin (Ill.)
Conference secretary*Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)
Policy Committee Chair*Byron Dorgan (N.D.)
Chair of the Steering Committee*Hillary Clinton (N.Y.)
Chairman of DSCC*Charles Schumer (N.Y)

*Position is not an official House leadership position but is part of the conference leadership

Articles and Resources

Resources

Articles

Toolbox