The positions of party floor leaders, or majority leader and
minority leader, are not included in the Constitution. Rather, these
party leadership positions developed gradually over the course of the
20th century. The Senate designated its first Democratic floor leader in
1920 and its first Republican leader in 1925. The majority leader
schedules the daily legislative agenda.
Party whips are assistant floor leaders, elected by the party
conference, who help the majority and minority leaders track votes on
important legislation. In the absence of a party floor leader, the whip
often serves as acting floor leader.
Members of each major party convene in private meetings 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.
The Senate created Democratic and Republican Policy Committees in
1947. Until 2000, the Democratic Policy Committee was chaired by the
party floor leader, who also served as chair of the Democratic
Conference. A co-chair position was added in 1989. In the 106th
Congress, the majority leader dropped his co-chair status and the chair
of the policy committee is now an elected post. The Republican Policy
Committee elects its chairperson separate from the party floor leader.
Members of each political party convene in private meetings known
as party conferences (or party caucuses) to elect floor leaders, make
committee assignments, and set legislative agendas. The Conference
Secretary is responsible for keeping the minutes of these meetings.
Democrats and Republicans in the Senate appoint campaign
committees to raise funds for congressional elections. Chaired by
senators, these committees distribute funds to incumbent senators and