Whip, Majority Whip, Minority Whip (CongressionalGlossary.com)

From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms

Whip, Majority Whip, Minority Whip

In addition to the majority and minority party leaders, each party elects assistant leaders, or “Whips.” Assistants to the floor leaders who are also elected by their party conferences. The majority and minority whips (and their assistants) are responsible for mobilizing votes within their parties on major issues. In the absence of a party floor leader, the whip often serves as acting floor leader.

The Whips assist the leadership in managing the party’s legislative program on the floor of the House and provides information to party members about important legislative-related matters. The Whips keep track of all politically important legislation and ensure that all members of their parties are present when important measures are to be voted upon. When a vote appears to be close, the Whips contact absent members of their party and advise them of the vote. Due to the larger number of members in the House of Representatives, House Whips appoint “deputy whips” to assist them in their activities. In addition, the House Democrats elect a number of “zone whips,” chosen by Democrats from particular regions of the country to assist in the informational activities of party leadership.

Colloquially, “whipping” is called “herding cats.”

Majority Whip: In effect, the assistant majority leader, in either the House or Senate. The Majority Whip’s job is to help marshal majority forces in support of party strategies and legislation. The party caucus elects the whip.

Minority Whip: Performs duties of whip for the minority party. Members of the minority party elect the Minority Whip.

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