Basic Guide to Party Leadership in Congress

Party leadership is responsible for bringing efficiency and order to the legislative body. Party leaders have partisan and institutional functions. The responsibility of the majority leadership is to set the agenda as well as determine legislative priorities and political strategies, assess support for legislation, schedule measures for floor action and round up votes for the passage of legislation. The minority leadership is responsible for devising strategies for the purpose of upsetting the majority’s plans.

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The position of Speaker of the House is provided for in Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution. This is the most senior officer of the House and also the third most senior official in the federal government. The Speaker presides over the House and also refers measures to committees. Other responsibilities include making rulings on points of order and setting the agenda. Additionally, the Speaker has priority for recognition on the floor. This position is elected by a majority vote of the House. Candidates may be nominated by their respective party caucus.

Congressional Leadership and Committees
Congressional Leadership and Committees

The second most senior official in the House is the majority leader. This is the person who is responsible for the day to day management of business on the floor. The majority leader is elected by the majority party caucus and is responsible for building and managing their party’s consensus on legislation.

The job of the majority whip is to persuade members to support the position of his or her party. The majority whip is responsible for measuring and rounding up support for party positions. There are also numerous assistant whips that work with the majority whip. This network of assistant whips can include chief deputy whips, regional whips and even class whips. The majority whip is elected by the majority party caucus.


Congressional Leadership: Crash Course Government and Politics #8


The minority leader is the senior official for the minority party and is responsible for working within the party to set a message, agenda and strategy. They may also appoint minority party members to commissions and task forces. The minority leader is elected by the minority party caucus.

The minority whip is responsible for persuading members to support their party’s position. They also count votes. A network of assistant whips also work with the minority whip.

To learn more, see for a listing of the current congressional leadership.






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