Democratic Conference Chairman of the United States Senate

Democratic Conference Chairman of the United States Senate

The Senate Democratic Caucus (or Conference) is the formal organization of the current 53 Democratic Senators in the United States Senate. In the 113th Congress, the Democratic Caucus additionally includes two independent senators who formally caucus with the Democrats for the purpose of committee assignments and Senate organization, bringing the total to 55 members. The primary organizational front for Democrats in the Senate, its primary function is communicating the party's message to and unifying all of its members. Caucus leadership consists of Senator Harry Reid (NV) as Chairman and Senate Majority Leader, Senator Dick Durbin (IL) as Whip or Assistant Majority Leader, Senator Charles Schumer (NY) as Vice-Chairman, and Senator Patty Murray (WA) as Secretary. The two independent members are Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine.


The Caucus was formally organized on March 6, 1903, electing a chairman to preside over its members and a secretary to keep minutes. Until that time, the caucus was often disorganized, philosophically divided, and had neither firm written rules of governance nor a clear mission.

List of caucus chairmen

Dates Senator State Notes
-1877 John W. Stevenson Kentucky  
1877–1881 William A. Wallace Pennsylvania  
1881–1885 George H. Pendleton Ohio  
1885–1890 James B. Beck Kentucky  
1890–1898 Arthur P. Gorman Maryland  
1898–1899 David Turpie Indiana  
1899–1903 James K. Jones Arkansas  
1903–1906 Arthur P. Gorman Maryland  
1906–1907 Joseph C. S. Blackburn Kentucky  
1907–1909 Charles A. Culberson Texas  
1909–1911 Hernando D. Money Mississippi  
1911–1913 Thomas S. Martin Virginia  
1913–1917 John Worth Kern Indiana  
1917–1919 Thomas S. Martin Virginia  
1920–1923 Oscar W. Underwood Alabama Also Democratic floor leader
1923–1937 Joseph T. Robinson Arkansas Also Democratic floor leader
1937–1949 Alben W. Barkley Kentucky Also Democratic floor leader
1949–1951 Scott W. Lucas Illinois Also Democratic floor leader
1951–1953 Ernest W. McFarland Arizona Also Democratic floor leader
1953–1961 Lyndon Johnson Texas Also Democratic floor leader
1961–1977 Mike Mansfield Montana Also Democratic floor leader
1977–1989 Robert Byrd West Virginia Also Democratic floor leader
1989–1995 George J. Mitchell Maine Also Democratic floor leader
1995–2005 Tom Daschle South Dakota Also Democratic floor leader
2005–present Harry Reid Nevada Also Democratic floor leader

Vice Chairmanship

After the victory of Democrats in the midterm elections of 2006, an overwhelming majority of the caucus thought of awarding Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a position in the hierarchy for defeating six incumbent Republicans. In response, Democratic Leader Harry Reid created the position of the Vice Chairman, making it the third-ranking Democratic position, after Leader and Whip.



  • Donald A. Ritchie (ed). Minutes of the Senate Democratic Conference: Fifty-eighth through Eighty-eighth Congress, 1903-1964. Washington, D.C., GPO, 1999. Available online in Text format.

External links

  • Official Home of the Senate Democratic Caucus on the Internet
  • Senate Party Leadership -- Much of this article's content was adapted from this useful public domain resource.
  • First Formal Organization of the Senate Democratic Caucus