United States Senate
United States Senate Senators HomeCommittees HomeLegislation & Records HomeArt & History HomeVisitors Center HomeReference Home

Party Whips

Chapter 1: Party Whips (Assistant Floor Leaders)
Chapter 2: Republican Party Whips
Chapter 3: Democratic Party Whips

Party Whips (Assistant Floor Leaders)

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. These assistant leaders 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.


Republican Party Whips

Name: James W. Wadsworth, Jr.  (NY)
Term: 1915
Note: Wadsworth became the first Republican party whip in 1915.

Name: Charles Curtis (KS)
Term: 1915-1924
Note: Curtis was advanced to Republican party floor leader in 1925.

Name: Wesley L. Jones (WA)
Term: 1924-1929

Name: Simeon D. Fess (OH)
Term: 1929-1933

Name: Felix Hebert (RI)
Term: 1933-1935
Note: 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."

Name: Kenneth S. Wherry (NE)
Term: 1944-1949
Note: Wherry advanced to party leader in 1949.

Name: Leverett Saltonstall (MA)
Term: 1949-1957

Name: Everett M. Dirksen (IL)
Term: 1957-1959
Note: Dirksen advanced to party leader in 1959.

Name: Thomas H. Kuchel (CA)
Term: 1959-1969
Note: Since 1969, Republicans have used the title "Assistant Leader" for this position.

Name: Hugh Scott (PA)
Term: 1969
Note: Scott advanced to party leader in 1969.

Name: Robert P. Griffin (MI)
Term: 1969-1977

Name: Theodore (Ted) Stevens (AK)
Term: 1977-1985

Name: Alan K. Simpson (WY)
Term: 1985-1995

Name: Trent Lott (MS)
Term: 1995-1996
Note: Lott advanced to party leader in 1996.

Name: Don Nickles (OK)
Term: 1996-2003

Name:  Mitch McConnell (KY)
Term:  2003-2007
Note: McConnell advanced to party leader in 2007.

Name: Trent Lott (MS)
Term: 2007

Name: Jon Kyl (AZ)
Term: 2008--


Democratic Party Whips

Name: J. Hamilton Lewis (IL)
Term: 1913-1919

Name: Peter G. Gerry (RI)
Term: 1919-1929

Name: Morris Sheppard (TX)
Term: 1929-1933

Name: J. Hamilton Lewis (IL)
Term: 1933-1939

Name: Sherman Minton (IN)
Term: 1939-1941

Name: Joseph Lister Hill (AL)
Term: 1941-1947

Name: Scott W. Lucas (IL)
Term: 1947-1949
Note: Lucas advanced to party leader in 1949.

Name: Francis J. Myers (PA)
Term: 1949-1951

Name: Lyndon B. Johnson (TX)
Term: 1951-1953
Note: Johnson advanced to party leader in 1953.

Name: Earle C. Clements (KY)
Term: 1953-1957

Name: Michael J. Mansfield (MT)
Term: 1957-1961
Note: Mansfield advanced to party leader in 1961.

Name: Hubert H. Humphrey (MN)
Term: 1961-1965

Name: Russell B. Long (LA)
Term: 1965-1969

Name: Edward M. Kennedy (MA)
Term: 1969-1971

Name: Robert C. Byrd (WV)
Term: 1971-1977
Note: Byrd advanced to party leader in 1977.

Name: Alan Cranston (CA)
Term: 1977-1991

Name: Wendell H. Ford (KY)
Term: 1991-1999

Name: Harry M. Reid (NV)
Term: 1999-2005
Note: Reid advanced to party leader in 2005.

Name: Richard Durbin (IL)
Term: 2005-


Historical information provided by the Senate Historical Office.

Have a historical question?  E-mail a Senate historian.

Information about any senator, representative, vice president, or member of the Continental Congress.