Jump to content

House Democratic Caucus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

House Democratic Caucus
Part ofUnited States House of Representatives
Floor LeaderHakeem Jeffries (NY)
Floor WhipKatherine Clark (MA)
ChairPete Aguilar (CA)
IdeologyModern liberalism
AffiliationDemocratic Party
Colors  Blue
213 / 435

The House Democratic Caucus is a congressional caucus composed of all Democratic representatives in the United States House of Representatives, voting and non-voting,[1] and is responsible for nominating and electing the Democratic Party leadership in the chamber. In its roles as a party conference, the caucus writes and enforces rules of conduct and discipline for its members, approves committee assignments, and serves as the primary forum for development of party policy and legislative priorities. It hosts weekly meetings for these purposes and to communicate the party's message to members.

When the caucus holds the majority of seats, it is usually led by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives who is assisted on the floor by the House Majority Leader and the party's Chief Whip. When in the minority, it is led by the House Minority Leader, assisted by the Chief Whip. The caucus has a Caucus Chairman and Caucus Vice-Chair (formerly called the Secretary). For the 118th Congress, Hakeem Jeffries was elected as the Minority Leader, Katherine Clark became the Minority Whip and Pete Aguilar was chosen as the Caucus Chairman.

Current hierarchy[edit]

Effective with the start of the 118th Congress, the chain of command conference leadership is as follows (from highest to lowest):

Leadership history[edit]

The House Democratic Caucus, through its institutional antecedent, the Democratic-Republican caucus, was established on April 2, 1796, to stop a treaty with Great Britain which unfairly treated American sailors. For many years, through 1820, it nominated presidential candidates (before the era of national nominating conventions).

Since 2023, the House Democratic Leader has been Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York (the first African-American congressional party leader in U.S. history).[2] He was elected to succeed longtime Democratic leader and the first woman Speaker of the House in U.S. history Nancy Pelosi.

At the Organizational Meeting on November 18, 2008, of the Democratic Caucus for the 111th Congress, Representative John B. Larson (D-Connecticut) was elected Caucus Chairman by acclamation. The election was presided over by the outgoing chairman of the Democratic Caucus for the 110th Congress, former Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois). Rep. Larson officially assumed the position of chairman on the first day of the 111th Congress, January 3, 2009.

After his election as chairman at the Organizational Meeting on November 18, Chairman Larson presided over the election of Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-California), who defeated Representative Marcy Kaptur of Ohio by a vote count of 175 to 67. Rep. Becerra likewise assumed his vice-chairmanship on January 3.

Leaders of the House Democratic Caucus[edit]

Congress Leader District Took office Left office House Speaker
20th Andrew Stevenson
Virginia 9 December 3, 1827 June 2, 1834[a]   Himself 1827–1834
23rd Virginia 11
23rd John Bell
Tennessee 7 June 2, 1834 March 4, 1835   Himself 1834–1835
24th James K. Polk
Tennessee 9 December 7, 1835 March 4, 1839   Himself 1835–1839
26th Unknown[b]   Hunter 1839–1841
27th Unknown[b]   White 1841–1843
28th John Winston Jones
Virginia 6 December 4, 1843 March 4, 1845   Himself 1843–1845
29th John Wesley Davis
Indiana 6 December 1, 1845 March 4, 1847   Himself 1845–1847
30th Unknown[b]   Winthrop 1847–1849
31st Howell Cobb
Georgia 6 December 22, 1849 March 4, 1851   Himself 1849–1851
32nd Linn Boyd
Kentucky 1 December 1, 1851 March 4, 1855   Himself 1851–1855
34th George Washington Jones
Tennessee 6 March 4, 1855 March 4, 1857   Banks 1856–1857
35th James Lawrence Orr
South Carolina 5 December 7, 1857 March 3, 1859   Himself 1857–1859
36th George S. Houston
Alabama 5 March 4, 1859 January 21, 1861[c]   Pennington 1860–1861
37th Unknown[d]   Grow 1861–1863
38th Unknown[d]   Colfax 1863–1869
39th Unknown[d]
40th Unknown[d]
40th   Pomeroy 1869
41st Samuel J. Randall
Pennsylvania 1 March 4, 1869 March 3, 1871   Blaine 1869–1875
William E. Niblack
Indiana 1
42nd Unknown[b]
43rd William E. Niblack
Indiana 1 March 4, 1873 March 3, 1875
44th Michael C. Kerr
Indiana 3 December 6, 1875 August 19, 1876[e]   Himself 1875–1876
44th Samuel J. Randall
Pennsylvania 3 December 4, 1876 March 3, 1881   Himself 1876–1881
47th Unknown[b]   Keifer 1881–1883
48th John G. Carlisle
Kentucky 6 December 3, 1883 March 3, 1889   Himself 1883–1889
51st William S. Holman
Indiana 4 March 4, 1889 March 3, 1891   Reed 1889–1891
52nd Charles Frederick Crisp
Georgia 3 December 8, 1891 March 3, 1895   Himself 1891–1895
54th David B. Culberson
Texas 4 March 4, 1895 March 3, 1897   Reed 1895–1899
55th James D. Richardson
Tennessee 5 March 4, 1897 March 3, 1903
56th   Henderson 1899–1903
58th John Sharp Williams
Mississippi 8 March 4, 1903 March 3, 1909   Cannon 1903–1911
61st Champ Clark
Missouri 9 March 4, 1909 March 2, 1921[e]
62nd   Himself 1911–1919
66th   Gillett 1919–1925
67th Claude Kitchin
North Carolina 2 March 4, 1921 March 4, 1923
68th Finis J. Garrett
Tennessee 9 March 4, 1923 March 3, 1929
69th   Longworth 1925–1931
71st John Nance Garner
Texas 15 March 4, 1929 March 3, 1933[f]
72nd   Himself 1931–1933
73rd Henry Thomas Rainey
Illinois 20 March 9, 1933 August 19, 1934[e]   Himself 1933–1934
74th Jo Byrns
Tennessee 5 January 3, 1935 June 4, 1936[e]   Himself 1935–1936
74th William B. Bankhead
Alabama 7 June 4, 1936 September 15, 1940[e]   Himself 1936–1940
76th Sam Rayburn
Texas 4 September 16, 1940 November 16, 1961[e]   Himself 1940–1947
80th   Martin 1947–1949
81st   Himself 1949–1953
83rd   Martin 1953–1955
84th   Himself 1955–1961
87th John W. McCormack
Massachusetts 12 January 10, 1962 January 3, 1971   Himself 1962–1971
88th Massachusetts 9
92nd Carl Albert
Oklahoma 3 January 21, 1971 January 3, 1977   Himself 1971–1977
95th Tip O'Neill
Massachusetts 8 January 4, 1977 January 3, 1987   Himself 1977–1987
100th Jim Wright
Texas 12 January 6, 1987 June 6, 1989[a]   Himself 1987–1989
101st Tom Foley
Washington 5 June 6, 1989 January 3, 1995   Himself 1989–1995
104th Dick Gephardt
(born 1941)
Missouri 3 January 3, 1995 January 3, 2003   Gingrich 1995–1999
106th   Hastert 1999–2007
108th Nancy Pelosi
(born 1940)
California 8 January 3, 2003 January 3, 2023
110th   Herself 2007–2011
112th   Boehner 2011–2015
113th California 12
  Ryan 2015–2019
116th   Herself 2019–2023
118th Hakeem Jeffries
(born 1970)
New York 8 January 3, 2023 Incumbent   McCarthy 2023
  McHenry[g] 2023
  Johnson 2023–present


  1. ^ a b Resigned from office and from Congress.
  2. ^ a b c d e Whoever held this office during this Congress is unknown.
  3. ^ Alabama seceded from the Union on January 11, 1861, and Houston withdrew from Congress ten days later on January 21.
  4. ^ a b c d Whoever held this office during this Congress is unknown, although it was likely vacant due to the American Civil War.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Died in office.
  6. ^ Resigned to become Vice President of the United States.
  7. ^ This person served as speaker pro tempore.

List of chairs[edit]

Chairs are currently limited to two consecutive terms.

Officeholder State Congress Term
James Thompson Pennsylvania 31st 1849–1851
N/A[3] 32nd 1851–1853
Edson B. Olds Ohio 33rd 1853–1855
George Washington Jones Tennessee 34th 1855–1857
N/A[4] 35th 1857–1859
George S. Houston Alabama 36th 1859–1861
N/A[5] 37th–40th 1861–1869
William E. Niblack,
Samuel J. Randall[6]
41st 1869–1871
N/A[7] 42nd 1871–1873
William E. Niblack Indiana 43rd 1873–1875
Lucius Q.C. Lamar Mississippi 44th 1875–1877
Hiester Clymer Pennsylvania 45th 1877–1879
John F. House Tennessee 46th 1879–1881
N/A[8] 47th 1881–1883
George W. Geddes Ohio 48th 1883–1885
J. Randolph Tucker Virginia 49th 1885–1887
Samuel S. Cox[9] New York 50th 1887–1889
William S. Holman Indiana 51st–53rd 1889–1895
David B. Culberson Texas 54th 1895–1897
James D. Richardson Tennessee 55th 1897–1899
James Hay Virginia 56th–58th 1899–1905
Robert L. Henry Texas 59th 1905–1907
Henry D. Clayton[10] Alabama 60th–61st 1907–1911
Albert S. Burleson Texas 62nd 1911–1913
A. Mitchell Palmer Pennsylvania 63rd 1913–1915
Edward W. Saunders Virginia 64th–65th 1915–1919
Arthur G. DeWalt Pennsylvania 66th 1919–1921
Sam Rayburn Texas 67th 1921–1923
Henry T. Rainey Illinois 68th 1923–1925
Charles D. Carter Oklahoma 69th 1925–1927
Arthur H. Greenwood Indiana 70th 1927–1929
David H. Kincheloe Kentucky 71st 1929–1930[11]
William W. Arnold Illinois 72nd 1931–1933
Clarence F. Lea California 73rd 1933–1935
Edward T. Taylor Colorado 74th 1935–1937
Robert L. Doughton North Carolina 75th 1937–1939
John W. McCormack Massachusetts 76th 1939–1940[12]
Richard M. Duncan Missouri 77th 1941–1943
Harry R. Sheppard California 78th 1943–1945
Jere Cooper Tennessee 79th 1945–1947
Aime J. Forand Rhode Island 80th 1947–1949
Francis E. Walter Pennsylvania 81st 1949–1951
Jere Cooper Tennessee 82nd 1951–1953
Wilbur D. Mills Arkansas 83rd 1953–1955
John J. Rooney New York 84th 1955–1957
Melvin Price Illinois 85th–86th 1957–1961
Francis E. Walter[13] Pennsylvania 87th–88th 1961–1963
Albert Thomas Texas 88th 1964–1965
Eugene Keogh New York 89th 1965–1967
Dan Rostenkowski Illinois 90th–91st 1967–1971
Olin Teague Texas 92nd–93rd 1971–1975
Phillip Burton California 94th 1976–1977
Thomas S. Foley Washington 95th–96th 1977–1981
Gillis W. Long Louisiana 97th–98th 1981–1985
Richard A. Gephardt Missouri 99th–100th 1985–1989
William H. Gray III Pennsylvania 101st 1989
Steny H. Hoyer Maryland 101st–103rd 1989–1995[14]
Vic Fazio California 104th–105th 1995–1999
Martin Frost Texas 106th–107th 1999–2003
Bob Menendez New Jersey 108th–109th 2003–2006[15]
James Clyburn South Carolina 109th 2006–2007
Rahm Emanuel Illinois 110th 2007–2009
John B. Larson Connecticut 111th–112th 2009–2013
Xavier Becerra California 113th–114th 2013–2017
Joe Crowley New York 115th 2017–2019
Hakeem Jeffries New York 116th-117th 2019–2023[16]
Pete Aguilar California 118th 2023–present

List of vice-chairs[edit]

The vice-chair of the Democratic Caucus ranks just below the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. In addition to other duties, the vice-chair has a seat on the Steering and Policy Committee.[17]

List of secretaries[edit]

The office of Secretary of the Democratic Caucus preceded the office of vice-chair. Until its elimination in 1987, the office of Secretary was reserved for a female member of the House.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rules of the Democratic Caucus". House Democrats. p. 5. Retrieved March 9, 2023. Rule 1. Caucus Membership A. All Members of the House of Representatives, the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico, and the Delegates from American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands who are Members of the Democratic Party shall be prima facie Members of the Democratic Caucus of the House of Representatives.
  2. ^ Mizelle, Shawna (January 4, 2023). "Hakeem Jeffries to make history as the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress | CNN Politics". CNN. Retrieved January 4, 2023.
  3. ^ No clear records remain for this Congress.
  4. ^ No clear records remain for this Congress.
  5. ^ No clear records remain for these Congresses.
  6. ^ Caucus records show Representative Niblack and Representative Randall as both having served as chairman during the Congress, but no dates of service were specified.
  7. ^ Representative Fernando Wood of New York nominated the Democratic leadership slate in the House, but there is no other evidence to show he was elected caucus chairman.
  8. ^ Available data show that Representative John F. House nominated Samuel J. Randall as the Democratic candidate for Speaker, the traditional role of the caucus chairman. Later data show W.S. Rosecrans issuing the next call for a Democratic Caucus meeting, but there is no evidence to suggest that Rosecrans was actually elected caucus chairman.
  9. ^ Former Parliamentarian Clarence Cannon's notes state "Cox died during this Congress and [Representative James B.] McCreary evidently succeeded or acted for him." However, Representative Cox died on September 10, 1889, six months after the sine die adjournment of the 50th Congress and the convening of the 51st Congress.
  10. ^ Caucus records are contradictory for this period. They show the election of Representative James Hay as chairman on January 19, 1911, but do not mention a resignation by incumbent chairman Clayton, nor do they specify that Hay was elected chairman for the new Congress. Later, they show the election of Representative Albert S. Burleson on April 11, 1911.
  11. ^ Resigned from the House, October 5, 1930; there is no record of an election to fill the vacancy as caucus chair.
  12. ^ Resigned following election as majority (floor) leader, September 16, 1940; records do not indicate that a successor was chosen during the remainder of the Congress.
  13. ^ Died in office, May 31, 1963. Caucus chairman post vacant until January 21, 1964.
  14. ^ Representative Hoyer was elected Caucus Chairman on June 21, 1989, following the June 14, 1989, election of Representative William (Bill) H. Gray III as Majority Whip.
  15. ^ On January 16, 2006, Representative Menendez resigned from the House after he was appointed to the Senate.
  16. ^ "Hakeem Jeffries defeats Barbara Lee in battle for Dem Caucus chair". Politico. November 28, 2018.
  17. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 29, 2006. Retrieved December 21, 2006.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Center for American Women and Politics" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 26, 2009. Retrieved December 19, 2008.
  19. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 4, 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ Congressional Women: On the Secretary position

External links[edit]