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Majority Whip of the United States House of Representatives: Wikis


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A whip in the United States House of Representatives manages his or her party's legislative program on the House floor. The Whip keeps track of all legislation and ensures that all party members are present when important measures are to be voted upon.


Historical origins

The role of the Whip can be traced back to the Parliament of the United Kingdom which adopted the term Whip from the fox-hunting position, ‘whipper-in,’ or the person who kept the fox hounds focused on their mission. In Congress, the Whip’s job is to count votes and ‘whip’ up support for legislation and keep members focused on the mission. While the formal House Whip positions were established in the late 19th century, the informal "vote counting" functions have been conducted since the earliest days of the United States House - an informal role first performed by James Madison.

The Republican Party created the position of Whip in 1897. The first Whip position was created by Speaker Thomas B. Reed, who appointed James A. Tawney of Minnesota to keep track of the whereabouts of Republican Party Members. The Democrats set up their whip structure and types of whips around 1901.

Current role

The Majority Whip is an elected member of the majority party who assists the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader to coordinate ideas on and garner support for proposed legislation. This position, unlike Speaker of the House, is not mandated by the Constitution.

The Minority Whip is a member of the minority party who assists the Minority Leader in coordinating the party caucus in its responses to legislation and other matters. However, the United States House of Representatives does not use the term "Minority Whip." The House of Representatives uses the terms "Republican Whip" or "Democratic Whip" depending on the Minority Party.

Current whips

The House Majority Whip of the 111th United States Congress is Rep. James E. Clyburn (D., South Carolina)

The House Minority Whip of the 111th United States Congress is Rep. Eric I. Cantor (R., Virginia)

List of party whips, 1897–present

(Names in Bold indicate Majority)

Dates Democratic Whip State Republican Whip State
1897-1899 None James Albertus Tawney Minnesota
1899-1901 Oscar W. Underwood Alabama
1901-1905 James T. Lloyd Missouri
1905-1909 James E. Watson Indiana
1909-1913 None John W. Dwight New York
1913-1915 Thomas M. Bell Georgia Charles H. Burke South Dakota
1915-1919 None Charles M. Hamilton New York
1919-1921 None Harold Knutson Minnesota
1921-1923 William A. Oldfield Arkansas
1923-1931 Albert H. Vestal Indiana
1931-1933 John McDuffie Alabama Carl G. Bachmann West Virginia
1933-1935 Arthur H. Greenwood Indiana Harry L. Englebright California
1935-1942 Patrick J. Boland Pennsylvania
1942-1943 Robert Ramspeck Georgia
1943-1945 Leslie C. Arends Illinois
1945-1947 John J. Sparkman Alabama
1947-1949 John W. McCormack Massachusetts Leslie C. Arends Illinois
1949-1953 J. Percy Priest Tennessee Leslie C. Arends Illinois
1953-1955 John W. McCormack Massachusetts Leslie C. Arends Illinois
1955-1961 Carl Albert Oklahoma Leslie C. Arends Illinois
1961-1971 Thomas Hale Boggs Louisiana
1971-1973 Tip O'Neill Massachusetts
1973-1975 John J. McFall California
1975-1977 Robert H. Michel Illinois
1977-1981 John W. Brademas Indiana
1981-1987 Thomas S. Foley Washington Trent Lott Mississippi
1987-1989 Tony Coelho California
1989 William H. Gray, III Pennsylvania Dick Cheney Wyoming
1989-1991 Newt Gingrich Georgia
1991-1995 David E. Bonior Michigan
1995-2001 David E. Bonior Michigan Tom DeLay Texas
2001-2003 Nancy Pelosi California
2003-2007 Steny Hoyer Maryland-5 Roy Blunt Missouri
2007–2009 Jim Clyburn South Carolina-6 Roy Blunt Missouri-7
2009– Eric Cantor Virginia-7


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