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Conference Chairpersons



Chapter 1: Conference Chairpersons
Chapter 2: Republican Conference Chairpersons
Chapter 3: Democratic Conference Chairpersons

Conference Chairpersons

Members of each major party meet in closed sessions known as party conferences (or party caucuses) to elect floor leaders, make committee assignments, and set legislative agendas. The Democratic floor leader serves as chair of the party conference, while the Republican Party separates the positions, electing a chairperson for the party conference, apart from the floor leader.

Republican Conference Chairpersons
SenatorTerm
HaleJohn P. Hale (ID, FS, OP, R-NH) 1862_1862 ended 1862
AnthonyHenry B. Anthony (R-RI) 1862_1884 1862–1884
ShermanJohn Sherman (R-OH) 1884_1885 1884–1885
EdmundsGeorge F. Edmunds (R-VT) 1885_1891 1885–1891
ShermanJohn Sherman (R-OH) 1891_1897 1891–1897
AllisonWilliam Boyd Allison (R-IA) 1897_1908 1897–1908
HaleEugene Hale (R-ME) 1908_1911 1908–1911
CullomShelby M. Cullom (R-IL) 1911_1913 1911–1913
GallingerJacob H. Gallinger (R-NH) 1913_1918 1913–1918
LodgeHenry C. Lodge (R-MA) 1918_1924 1918–1924
CurtisCharles Curtis (R-KS) 1924_1929 1924–1929 1
WatsonJames E. Watson (R-IN) 1929_1933 1929–19332
McNaryCharles L. McNary (R-OR) 1933_1944 1933–19443
VandenbergArthur H. Vandenberg (R-MI) 1945_1947 1945–1947
MillikinEugene D. Millikin (R-CO) 1947_1957 1947–1957
SaltonstallLeverett Saltonstall (R-MA) 1957_1967 1957–1967
SmithMargaret Chase Smith (R-ME) 1967_1973 1967–1973
CottonNorris H. Cotton (R-NH) 1973_1974 1973–1975
CurtisCarl T. Curtis (R-NE) 1975_1979 1975–1979
PackwoodRobert W. Packwood (R-OR) 1979_1981 1979–1980
McClureJames A. McClure (R-ID) 1981_1985 1981–1985
ChafeeJohn H. Chafee (R-RI) 1985_1991 1985–1991
CochranThad Cochran (R-MS) 1991_1997 1991–1997
MackConnie Mack III (R-FL) 1997_2001 1997–2001
SantorumRick Santorum (R-PA) 2001_2007 2001–2007
KylJon L. Kyl (R-AZ) 2007_2007 2007
AlexanderLamar Alexander (R-TN) 2008_2012 2008–2012
ThuneJohn Thune (R-SD) 2012_2019 2012–2019
BarrassoJohn Barrasso (R-WY) 2019_ 2019–present

1. Republican senators elected Charles Curtis of Kansas as conference chairman on November 28, 1924, and as their first floor leader on March 5, 1925. Curtis, James Watson, and Charles McNary all served in dual roles as conference chairmen and party floor leaders. In 1945, the two positions were separated, with Arthur Vandenberg becoming conference chairman while Wallace H. White became Republican party floor leader. The positions have remained separated.

2. Also served as Republican floor leader.

3. Also served as Republican floor leader.

Democratic Conference Chairpersons
SenatorTerm
StevensonJohn W. Stevenson (D-KY) 1877 ended 1877
WallaceWilliam A. Wallace (D-PA) 1878-1881 1878–1881
PendletonGeorge H. Pendleton (D-OH) 1881-1885 1881–1885
BeckJames B. Beck (D-KY) 1885-1890 1885–1890
GormanArthur P. Gorman (D-MD) 1890-1898 1890–1898
TurpieDavid Turpie (D-IN) 1898-1899 1898–1899
JonesJames K. Jones (D-AR) 1899-1903 1899–1903
GormanArthur P. Gorman (D-MD) 1903-1906 1903–1906
BlackburnJoseph C. S. Blackburn (D-KY) 1906-1907 1906–1907
CulbersonCharles A. Culberson (D-TX) 1907-1909 1907–1909
MoneyHernando Money (D-MS) 1909-1911 1909–1911
MartinThomas S. Martin (D-VA) 1911-1913 1911–1913
KernJohn W. Kern (D-IN) 1913-1917 1913–1917
MartinThomas S. Martin (D-VA) 1917-1919 1917–1919
UnderwoodOscar W. Underwood (D-AL) 1920-1923 1920–1923
RobinsonJoseph T. Robinson (D-AR) 1923_1937 1923–1937
BarkleyAlben W. Barkley (D-KY) 1937_1949 1937–1949
LucasScott W. Lucas (D-IL) 1949_1951 1949–1951
McFarlandErnest W. McFarland (D-AZ) 1951_1953 1951–1953
JohnsonLyndon B. Johnson (D-TX) 1953_1961 1953–1961
MansfieldMike Mansfield (D-MT) 1961_1977 1961–1977
ByrdRobert C. Byrd (D-WV) 1977_1989 1977–1989
MitchellGeorge J. Mitchell (D-ME) 1989_1995 1989–1995
DaschleThomas A. Daschle (D-SD) 1995_20050103 1995–2005
ReidHarry Reid (D-NV) 20050103_20170103 2005–2017
SchumerCharles E. Schumer (D-NY) 20170103 2017–present

Note: Beginning in 1920, the Democratic Conference chairperson also served as Democratic floor leader. In that year, Oscar Underwood became the first officially designated Democratic floor leader, and the tradition of combining the two positions continues to this day.


Sources for this information include: Gerald Gamm and Steven S. Smith, “Emergence of Senate Party Leadership,” in Bruce I, Oppenheimer, ed., U.S. Senate Exceptionalism (Ohio State University Press, 2002), pp. 212-238; “Rules of the Senate Republican Conference,” September 24, 1990; U.S. Congress, Senate, Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate, by Floyd M. Riddick, S. Doc. 100-29, 100th Cong., 2d sess., 1988.