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Conference Chairpersons

Senators John P. Hale and John W. Stevenson
Senators John P. Hale and John W. Stevenson

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

John P. Hale (NH)
Term: Term ended 1862

Henry B. Anthony (RI)
Term: 1862-1884

John Sherman (OH)
Term: 1884-1885

George Edmunds (VT)
Term: 1885-1891

John Sherman (OH)
Term: 1891-1897

William B. Allison (IA)
Term: 1897-1908

Eugene Hale (ME)
Term: 1908-1911

Shelby Cullom (IL)
Term: 1911-1913

Jacob H. Gallinger (NH)
Term: 1913-1918

Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr. (MA)
Term: 1918-1924

Charles Curtis (KS)
Term: 1924-1929
Note: 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.

James E. Watson (IN)
Term: 1929-1933
Note: Also served as Republican floor leader.

Charles L. McNary (OR)
Term: 1933-1944
Note: Also served as Republican floor leader.

Arthur H. Vandenberg (MI)
Term: 1945-1946

Eugene D. Millikin (CO)
Term: 1947-1956

Leverett Saltonstall  (MA)
Term: 1957-1966

Margaret Chase Smith (ME)
Term: 1967-1972

Norris Cotton (NH)
Term: 1973-1974

Carl T. Curtis (NE)
Term: 1975-1978

Robert Packwood (OR)
Term: 1979-1980

James A. McClure (ID)
Term: 1981-1984

John Chafee (RI)
Term: 1985-1990

William Thad Cochran (MS)
Term: 1991-1996

Connie Mack (FL)
Term: 1997-2001

Richard J. Santorum (PA)
Term: 2001-2007

Jon Kyl (AZ)
Term: 2007

Lamar Alexander (TN)
Term: 2008-2012

John Thune (SD)
Term: 2012-present


Democratic Conference Chairpersons

John W. Stevenson (KY)
Term: Term ended 1877

William Wallace (PA)
Term: 1877-1881

George Pendleton (OH)
Term: 1881-1885

James Beck (KY)
Term: 1885-1890

Arthur P. Gorman (MD)
Term: 1890-1898

David Turpie (IN)
Term: 1898-1899

James K. Jones (AR)
Term: 1899-1903

Arthur P. Gorman (MD)
Term: 1903-1906

Joseph C.S. Blackburn (KY)
Term: 1906-1907

Charles A. Culberson (TX)
Term: 1907-1909

Hernando D. Money (MS)
Term: 1909-1911

Thomas S. Martin (VA)
Term: 1911-1913

John Worth Kern (IN)
Term: 1913-1917

Thomas S. Martin (VA)
Term: 1917-1919

Oscar W. Underwood (AL)
Term: 1920-1923
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.

Joseph T. Robinson (AR)
Term: 1923-1937

Alben W. Barkley (KY)
Term: 1937-1949

Scott W. Lucas (IL)
Term: 1949-1951

Ernest W. McFarland (AZ)
Term: 1951-1953

Lyndon B. Johnson (TX)
Term: 1953-1961

Mike Mansfield (MT)
Term: 1961-1977

Robert C. Byrd (WV)
Term: 1977-1989

George J. Mitchell (ME)
Term: 1989-1995

Thomas A. Daschle (SD)
Term: 1995-January 3, 2005

Harry M. Reid (NV)
Term:  January 3, 2005--


Related Publications:

U.S. Congress. Senate. Minutes of the Senate Republican Conference: Sixty-second Congress through Eighty-eighth Congress, 1911-1964, edited by Wendy Wolff and Donald A. Ritchie. Washington: GPO, 1999, Senate Document 105-19. (Available online in pdf format.)

U.S. Congress. Senate. Minutes of the Senate Democratic Conference: Fifty-eighth through Eighty-eighth Congresses, 1903-1964, edited by Donald A. Ritchie. Washington, GPO, 1999. Senate Document 105-20. (Available online in pdf format.)


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