What are the Congressional Leadership Roles?
Many Americans watch the political news with great enthusiasm and sometimes trepidation. Laws that Congress enacts can have a great effect on the economy, personal liberty, and the international balance of power. With all that at stake, understanding how Congress functions is of the utmost importance.
The Congress consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Each state has two senators and a number of representatives based on their populations. The House and Senate are controlled by the political party with the most members, called the majority party. The party with the second most members is the minority party. State Congressional bodies have similar structures, as illustrated by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
President of the Senate
The Vice President serves in this capacity on the federal level, while in many states the lieutenant governor serves the role. The president of the Senate presides over the Senate, preserves order, and rules on parliamentary questions, amongst other duties.
President pro tem of the Senate
The president pro tem fills in for the president of the Senate when needed.
Speaker of the House
The speaker fulfills the same role in the House as the president of the Senate. The speaker is a member of the majority party in the federal Congress. Currently, the post is filled by Republican Congressman Paul Ryan. In addition to presiding over the House, the speaker leads his party and often serves as their spokesman.
Speaker pro tem
The speaker pro tem serves as a substitute for the speaker of the House if needed.
Senate majority leader
This individual leads the majority party in the Senate. He serves as the lead speaker for the party. At the federal level, this position is filled by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell.
Majority caucus chair
The majority caucus chair heads caucus meetings, works with members to build caucus agendas, and creates agenda centered around different policies.
The majority whip works at the side of the floor leader, polices member attendance, tallies votes, and communicates the majority position.
The minority leader develops the minority position and negotiates with the majority leaders. He or she also directs minority caucuses and leads debates. On the federal level, this role is currently filled by New York Senator Chuck Schumer in the Senate and California Representative Nancy Pelosi in the House.
Minority caucus leader
This minority caucus leader provides support for the minority leader and heads caucuses.
The minority whip enforces party expectations for member attendance, tallies votes, and supports the minority leader.