Senate Democratic Caucus

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Senate Democratic Caucus
Part ofUnited States Senate
Chair and LeaderChuck Schumer (NY)
Floor WhipDick Durbin (IL)
Assistant LeaderPatty Murray (WA)
Vice ChairsMark Warner (VA)
Elizabeth Warren (MA)
Modern liberalism
Political positionCenter to center-left
AffiliationDemocratic Party
Colors  Blue
50 / 100

The Democratic Caucus of the United States Senate, sometimes referred to as the Democratic Conference, is the formal organization of all senators who are part of the Democratic Party in the United States Senate. For the makeup of the 117th Congress, the caucus additionally includes two independent senators (Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine) who caucus with the Democrats, bringing the current total to 50 members. The central organizational front for Democrats in the Senate, its primary function is communicating the party's message to all of its members under a single banner.

Current leadership[edit]

Effective with the start of the 116th Congress, the conference leadership is as follows:


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


Since Oscar Underwood's election in 1920, the chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus has also concurrently served as the floor leader as part of an unwritten tradition.

Dates Senator State
December 1873 – March 4, 1877 John W. Stevenson Kentucky
March 4, 1877 – March 4, 1881 William A. Wallace Pennsylvania
March 4, 1881 – March 4, 1885 George H. Pendleton Ohio
March 4, 1885 – May 3, 1890 James B. Beck Kentucky
May 3, 1890 – April 1898 Arthur Gorman Maryland
April 1898 – March 4, 1899 David Turpie Indiana
December 1899 – March 4, 1903 James Kimbrough Jones Arkansas
March 4, 1903 – June 4, 1906 Arthur Gorman Maryland
June 4, 1906 – March 4, 1907 Joseph Blackburn Kentucky
December 1907 – December 1909 Charles Culberson Texas
December 1909 – March 4, 1911 Hernando Money Mississippi
April 1911 – March 4, 1913 Thomas S. Martin Virginia
March 4, 1913 – March 4, 1917 John W. Kern Indiana
March 4, 1917 – November 12, 1919 Thomas S. Martin Virginia
November 12, 1919 – April 27, 1920 Gilbert Hitchcock
April 27, 1920 – December 3, 1923 Oscar Underwood Alabama
December 3, 1923 – July 14, 1937 Joe Robinson Arkansas
July 14, 1937 – January 3, 1949 Alben W. Barkley Kentucky
January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1951 Scott W. Lucas Illinois
January 3, 1951 – January 3, 1953 Ernest McFarland Arizona
January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1961 Lyndon Johnson Texas
January 3, 1961 – January 3, 1977 Mike Mansfield Montana
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1989 Robert Byrd West Virginia
January 3, 1989 – January 3, 1995 George J. Mitchell Maine
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2005 Tom Daschle South Dakota
January 3, 2005 – January 3, 2017 Harry Reid Nevada
January 3, 2017 – present Chuck Schumer New York

Vice chair[edit]

After the victory of Democrats in the midterm elections of 2006, an overwhelming majority in the conference wanted to reward Chuck Schumer, then the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, with a position in the leadership hierarchy.[citation needed] In response, then-Democratic Leader Harry Reid created the position of vice-chair when Democrats formally took control in 2007.[1] Schumer ascended to Reid's position following his retirement after the 2016 elections. The position was then split, with one co-chair awarded to Mark Warner and the other awarded to Elizabeth Warren.

Caucus secretary[edit]

The United States Senate Democratic Conference Secretary, also called the Caucus Secretary was previously considered the number-three position, behind the party's floor leader and the party's whip, until in 2006, when Democratic leader Harry Reid created the new position of Vice-Chairman of the caucus. Now, the secretary is the fourth-highest ranking position. The conference secretary is responsible for taking notes and aiding the party leadership when senators of the party meet or caucus together.[2]

The first conference secretary was Sen. Edward W. Carmack of Tennessee, who was elected in March 1903.[3]

The current conference secretary is Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who assumed the office in January 2017.

Officeholder State Term
Edward W. Carmack Tennessee 1903–1907
Robert Owen Oklahoma 1907–1911
William E. Chilton West Va. 1911–1913
Willard Saulsbury Jr. Delaware 1913–1916
Key Pittman
Nevada 1916–1917
William H. King Utah 1917–1927
Hugo Black Alabama 1927–1937
Joshua B. Lee Oklahoma 1937–1943
Francis T. Maloney Connecticut 1943–1945
Brien McMahon Connecticut 1945–1952
Thomas Hennings Missouri 1953–1960
George Smathers Florida 1960–1966
Robert Byrd West Va. 1967–1971
Ted Moss Utah 1971–1977
Daniel Inouye Hawaii 1977–1989
David Pryor Arkansas 1989–1995
Barbara Mikulski Maryland 1995–2005
Debbie Stabenow Michigan 2005–2007
Patty Murray Washington 2007–2017
Tammy Baldwin Wisconsin 2017–present


  1. ^ Bolton, Alexander (January 20, 2021). "Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader". The Hill. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  2. ^ "Conference Secretaries". U.S. Senate.
  3. ^ "Senate Democratic Caucus Organized". U.S. Senate.


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

External links[edit]