Senate Democratic Caucus

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.

Senate Democratic Caucus
Part ofUnited States Senate
Chair and Floor 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[1]
AffiliationDemocratic Party
Colors  Blue
50 / 100

Current leadershipEdit

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.

Senator State Term of office Congress
Start End Length
  John W. Stevenson Kentucky December 1873 March 4, 1877 3 years 43rd  44th
  William A. Wallace Pennsylvania March 4, 1877 March 4, 1881 4 years, 0 days 45th  46th
  George H. Pendleton Ohio March 4, 1881 March 4, 1885 4 years, 0 days 47th  48th
  James B. Beck Kentucky March 4, 1885 May 3, 1890 5 years, 60 days 49th  51st
  Arthur Gorman Maryland May 3, 1890 April 1898 7 years 51st  55th
  David Turpie Indiana April 1898 March 4, 1899 0 years 55th  55th
  James Kimbrough Jones Arkansas December 1899 March 4, 1903 3 years 56th  57th
  Arthur Gorman Maryland March 4, 1903 June 4, 1906 3 years, 92 days 58th  59th
  Joseph Blackburn Kentucky June 4, 1906 March 4, 1907 273 days 59th  59th
  Charles Culberson Texas December 1907 December 1909 1–2 years 60th  61st
  Hernando Money Mississippi December 1909 March 4, 1911 1 years 61st  61st
  Thomas S. Martin Virginia April 1911 March 4, 1913 1 years 62nd  62nd
  John W. Kern Indiana March 4, 1913 March 4, 1917 4 years, 0 days 63rd  64th
  Thomas S. Martin Virginia March 4, 1917 November 12, 1919 2 years, 253 days 65th  66th
  Gilbert Hitchcock (acting) Nebraska November 12, 1919 April 27, 1920 167 days 66th  66th
  Oscar Underwood Alabama April 27, 1920 December 3, 1923 3 years, 220 days 66th  68th
  Joe Robinson Arkansas December 3, 1923 July 14, 1937 13 years, 223 days 68th  75th
  Alben W. Barkley Kentucky July 14, 1937 January 3, 1949 11 years, 173 days 75th  80th
  Scott W. Lucas Illinois January 3, 1949 January 3, 1951 2 years, 0 days 81st  81st
  Ernest McFarland Arizona January 3, 1951 January 3, 1953 2 years, 0 days 82nd  82nd
  Lyndon Johnson Texas January 3, 1953 January 3, 1961 8 years, 0 days 83rd  86th
  Mike Mansfield Montana January 3, 1961 January 3, 1977 16 years, 0 days 87th  94th
  Robert Byrd West Virginia January 3, 1977 January 3, 1989 12 years, 0 days 95th  100th
  George J. Mitchell Maine January 3, 1989 January 3, 1995 6 years, 0 days 101st  103rd
  Tom Daschle South Dakota January 3, 1995 January 3, 2005 10 years, 0 days 104th  108th
  Harry Reid Nevada January 3, 2005 January 3, 2017 12 years, 0 days 109th  114th
  Chuck Schumer New York January 3, 2017 Incumbent 5 years, 141 days 115th  

Vice chairEdit

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.[2] 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 secretaryEdit

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.[3]

The first conference secretary was Sen. Edward W. Carmack of Tennessee, who was elected in March 1903.[4]

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

Officeholder State Term
Edward W. Carmack   TN 1903–1907
Robert Owen   OK 1907–1911
William E. Chilton   WV 1911–1913
Willard Saulsbury Jr.  DE 1913–1916
Key Pittman
  NV 1916–1917
William H. King   UT 1917–1927
Hugo Black   AL 1927–1937
Joshua B. Lee   OK 1937–1943
Francis T. Maloney   CT 1943–1945
Brien McMahon   CT 1945–1952
Thomas Hennings   MO 1953–1960
George Smathers   FL 1960–1966
Robert Byrd   WV 1967–1971
Ted Moss   UT 1971–1977
Daniel Inouye   HI 1977–1989
David Pryor   AR 1989–1995
Barbara Mikulski   MD 1995–2005
Debbie Stabenow   MI 2005–2007
Patty Murray   WA 2007–2017
Tammy Baldwin   WI 2017–present


  1. ^ "The Six Wings of the Democratic Party". 11 March 2019. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
  2. ^ Bolton, Alexander (January 20, 2021). "Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader". The Hill. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  3. ^ "Conference Secretaries". U.S. Senate.
  4. ^ "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 linksEdit