The House Democratic Caucus is a congressional caucus composed of all Democratic Representatives in the United States House of Representatives and is responsible for nominating and electing the Democratic Party leadership in the chamber. In its roles as a party conference, the caucus writes and enforces rules of conduct and discipline for its members, approves committee assignments, and serves as the primary forum for development of party policy and legislative priorities. It hosts weekly meetings for these purposes and to communicate the party's message to members. The caucus has a Caucus Chairman and Caucus Vice-Chair (formerly called the Secretary).
The forerunner of the House Democratic Caucus, the Democratic-Republican caucus, was established on April 2, 1796, to stop a treaty with Great Britain which unfairly treated American sailors. For many years, through 1820, it nominated presidential candidates (before the era of national nominating conventions).
Since 2003, the House Democratic Leader has been Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California (the first female Speaker of the House in U.S. history). She has served twice as Speaker, from 2007 - 2011 and from 2019 to present.
At the Organizational Meeting on November 18, 2008, of the Democratic Caucus for the 111th Congress, Representative John B. Larson (D-Connecticut) was elected Caucus Chairman by acclamation. The election was presided over by the outgoing chairman of the Democratic Caucus for the 110th Congress, former Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois). Rep. Larson officially assumed the position of chairman on the first day of the 111th Congress, January 3, 2009.
After his election as chairman at the Organizational Meeting on November 18, Chairman Larson presided over the election of Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-California), who defeated Representative Marcy Kaptur of Ohio by a vote count of 175 to 67. Rep. Becerra likewise assumed his vice-chairmanship on January 3.
List of Caucus Chairmen
This list may be incomplete.
- Chase G. Woodhouse (1949–1951)
- Edna F. Kelly (1953–1957, 1964)
- Leonor K. Sullivan (1959–1975, except 1964)
- Patsy Mink (1975–1977)
- Shirley Chisholm (1977–1981)
- Geraldine Ferraro (1981–1985)
- Mary Rose Oakar (1985–1987)
List of Vice-Chairs
- Mary Rose Oakar (1987–1989)
- Steny Hoyer (1989)
- Vic Fazio (1989–1995)
- Barbara B. Kennelly (1995–1999)
- Bob Menendez (1999–2003)
- Jim Clyburn (2003–2005)
- John B. Larson (2006–2009)
- Xavier Becerra (2009–2012)
- Joe Crowley (2012–2017)
- Linda Sánchez (2017–2019)
- Katherine Clark (2019–present)
- "Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi". Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
- No clear records remain for this Congress.
- No clear records remain for this Congress.
- No clear records remain for these Congresses.
- Caucus records show Representative Niblack and Representative Randall as both having served as chairman during the Congress, but no dates of service were specified.
- Representative Fernando Wood of New York nominated the Democratic leadership slate in the House, but there is no other evidence to show he was elected caucus chairman.
- Available data show that Representative John F. House nominated Samuel J. Randall as the Democratic candidate for Speaker, the traditional role of the caucus chairman. Later data show W.S. Rosecrans issuing the next call for a Democratic Caucus meeting, but there is no evidence to suggest that Rosecrans was actually elected caucus chairman.
- Former Parliamentarian Clarence Cannon's notes state "Cox died during this Congress and [Representative James B.] McCreary evidently succeeded or acted for him." However, Representative Cox died on September 10, 1889, six months after the sine die adjournment of the 50th Congress and the convening of the 51st Congress.
- Caucus records are contradictory for this period. They show the election of Representative James Hay as chairman on January 19, 1911, but do not mention a resignation by incumbent chairman Clayton, nor do they specify that Hay was elected chairman for the new Congress. Later, they show the election of Representative Albert S. Burleson on April 11, 1911.
- Resigned from the House, October 5, 1930; there is no record of an election to fill the vacancy as caucus chair.
- Resigned following election as majority (floor) leader, September 16, 1940; records do not indicate that a successor was chosen during the remainder of the Congress.
- Died in office, May 31, 1963. Caucus chairman post vacant until January 21, 1964.
- Representative Hoyer was elected Caucus Chairman on June 21, 1989, following the June 14, 1989, election of Representative William (Bill) H. Gray III as Majority Whip.
- On January 16, 2006, Representative Menendez resigned from the House after he was appointed to the Senate.
- Center for American Women and Politics
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