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Home > Historical Highlights > Congressional History > House Majority & Minority Leaders

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(1899 to Present)

The House of Representatives, with its large membership, has chosen majority and minority leaders since the 19th century to expedite legislative business and to keep their parties united. These leaders are elected every two years in secret balloting of the party caucus or conference.
A list of House majority and minority leaders from 1899 to present are available below.

The role of the majority leader has been defined by history and tradition. This officer is charged with scheduling legislation for floor consideration; planning the daily, weekly, and annual legislative agendas; consulting with Members to gauge party sentiment; and, in general, working to advance the goals of the majority party. Information on the current activities of the majority leader is available from The Office of the Majority Leader's web site.

The minority leader serves as floor leader of the "loyal opposition," and is the minority counterpart to the Speaker. Although many of the basic leadership responsibilities of the minority and majority leaders are similar, the minority leader speaks for minority party and its policies and works to protect the minority's rights. Information on the current activities of the minority leader is available from the The Office of the Minority Leader's web site.

Congress Majority Leader Minority Leader Years
56th Sereno E. Payne (R-NY)James D. Richardson (D-TN) (1899-1901)
57th Sereno E. Payne (R-NY)James D. Richardson (D-TN) (1901-1903)
58th Sereno E. Payne (R-NY)John Sharp Williams (D-MS) (1903-1905)
59th Sereno E. Payne (R-NY)John Sharp Williams (D-MS) (1905-1907)
60th Sereno E. Payne (R-NY)John Sharp Williams (D-MS) (1907-1908)
60th Sereno E. Payne (R-NY)James Beauchamp Clark (D-MO) (1908-1909)
61st Sereno E. Payne (R-NY)James Beauchamp Clark (D-MO) (1909-1911)
62nd Oscar W. Underwood (D-AL)James R. Mann (R-IL) (1911-1913)
63rd Oscar W. Underwood (D-AL)James R. Mann (R-IL) (1913-1915)
64th Claude Kitchin (D-NC)James R. Mann (R-IL) (1915-1917)
65th Claude Kitchin (D-NC)James R. Mann (R-IL) (1917-1919)
66th Frank W. Mondell (R-WY)James Beauchamp Clark (D-MO) (1919-1921)
67th Frank W. Mondell (R-WY)Claude Kitchin (D-NC) (1921-1923)
68th Nicholas Longworth (R-OH)Finis J. Garrett (D-TN) (1923-1925)
69th John Q. Tilson (R-CT)Finis J. Garrett (D-TN) (1925-1927)
70th John Q. Tilson (R-CT)Finis J. Garrett (D-TN) (1927-1929)
71st John Q. Tilson (R-CT)John N. Garner (D-TX) (1929-1931)
72nd Henry T. Rainey (D-IL)Bertrand H. Snell (R-NY) (1931-1933)
73rd Joseph W. Byrns (D-TN)Bertrand H. Snell (R-NY) (1933-1935)
74th William B. Bankhead (D-AL) 1Bertrand H. Snell (R-NY) (1935-1937)
75th Sam Rayburn (D-TX)Bertrand H. Snell (R-NY) (1937-1939)
76th Sam Rayburn (D-TX) 2Joseph W. Martin, Jr. (R-MA) (1939-1940)
76th John W. McCormack (D-MA) 3Joseph W. Martin, Jr. (R-MA) (1940-1941)
77th John W. McCormack (D-MA)Joseph W. Martin, Jr. (R-MA) (1941-1942)
78th John W. McCormack (D-MA)Joseph W. Martin, Jr. (R-MA) (1943-1945)
79th John W. McCormack (D-MA)Joseph W. Martin, Jr. (R-MA) (1945-1947)
80th Charles A. Halleck (R-IN)Sam Rayburn (D-TX) (1947-1949)
81st John W. McCormack (D-MA)Joseph W. Martin, Jr. (R-MA) (1949-1951)
82nd John W. McCormack (D-MA)Joseph W. Martin, Jr. (R-MA) (1951-1953)
83rd Charles A. Halleck (R-IN)Sam Rayburn (D-TX) (1953-1955)
84th John W. McCormack (D-MA)Joseph W. Martin, Jr. (R-MA) (1955-1957)
85th John W. McCormack (D-MA)Joseph W. Martin, Jr. (R-MA) (1957-1959)
86th John W. McCormack (D-MA)Charles A. Halleck (R-IN) (1959-1961)
87th John W. McCormack (D-MA) 4Charles A. Halleck (R-IN) (1961-1962)
87th Carl B. Albert (D-OK) 5Charles A. Halleck (R-IN) (1962-1963)
88th Carl B. Albert (D-OK)Charles A. Halleck (R-IN) (1963-1965)
89th Carl B. Albert (D-OK)Gerald R. Ford (R-MI) (1965-1967)
90th Carl B. Albert (D-OK)Gerald R. Ford (R-MI) (1967-1969)
91st Carl B. Albert (D-OK)Gerald R. Ford (R-MI) (1969-1971)
92nd Hale Boggs (D-LA) 6Gerald R. Ford (R-MI) (1971-1973)
93rd Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. (D-MA)Gerald R. Ford (R-MI) 7 (1973)
93rd Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. (D-MA)John J. Rhodes (R-AZ) (1974-1975)
94th Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. (D-MA)John J. Rhodes (R-AZ) (1975-1977)
95th James C. Wright, Jr. (D-TX)John J. Rhodes (R-AZ) (1977-1979)
96th James C. Wright, Jr. (D-TX)John J. Rhodes (R-AZ) (1979-1981)
97th James C. Wright, Jr. (D-TX)Robert H. Michel (R-IL) (1981-1983)
98th James C. Wright, Jr. (D-TX)Robert H. Michel (R-IL) (1983-1984)
99th James C. Wright, Jr. (D-TX)Robert H. Michel (R-IL) (1985-1986)
100th Thomas S. Foley (D-WA)Robert H. Michel (R-IL) (1987-1988)
101st Thomas S. Foley (D-WA) 8Robert H. Michel (R-IL) (1989-1990)
101st Richard A. Gephardt (D-MO) 9Robert H. Michel (R-IL) (1989-1990)
102nd Richard A. Gephardt (D-MO)Robert H. Michel (R-IL) (1991-1992)
103rd Richard A. Gephardt (D-MO)Robert H. Michel (R-IL) (1993-1994)
104th Richard K. Armey (R-TX)Richard A. Gephardt (D-MO) (1995-1996)
105th Richard K. Armey (R-TX)Richard A. Gephardt (D-MO) (1997-1998)
106th Richard K. Armey (R-TX)Richard A. Gephardt (D-MO) (1999-2000)
107th Richard K. Armey (R-TX)Richard A. Gephardt (D-MO) (2001-2002)
108th Tom DeLay (R-TX)Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (2003-2004)
109th Tom DeLay (R-TX) 10Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (2005)
109th Roy Blunt (R-MO) 11Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (2005-2006)
109th John Boehner (R-OH) 12Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (2006)

Source: Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress, Congressional Research Service

1 Elected Speaker on January 3, 1935, filling the vacancy caused by the death of Speaker Joseph Byrns. Records indicate that Representative John J. O’Connor of New York, chairman of the House Rules Committee, served as acting Majority Leader during the 14 remaining days of the 74th Congress. O’Connor does not, however, appear to have been formally elected Majority Leader at that time and, therefore, is not included in this list. At the commencement of the 75th Congress, Representatives Samuel (Sam) Rayburn, James O’Connor, John Rankin, and others competed for the post of Majority Leader. Representative Rayburn ultimately was elected by the Democratic Caucus.
2 Elected Speaker on September 16, 1940, filling the vacancy caused by the death of Speaker William Bankhead.
3 Elected Majority Leader on September 16, 1940, to fill the vacancy left when Majority Leader Sam Rayburn was elected Speaker.
4 Elected Speaker on January 10, 1962, at the commencement of the 87th Congress, 2nd session, filling the vacancy caused by the death of Sam Rayburn.
5 Elected Majority Leader on January 10, 1962, at the commencement of the 87th Congress, 2nd session, to fill the vacancy left when Majority Leader John McCormack was elected Speaker.
6 Disappeared on a flight from Anchorage to Juneau, Alaska, October 16, 1972. Presumed dead pursuant to House Resolution 1, at the commencement of the 93rd Congress.
7 Resigned from the House of Representatives on December 6, 1973, after having been confirmed by the Senate to become Vice President to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew.
8 Elected Speaker on June 6, 1989, following Speaker James Wright’s resignation on the same date.
9 Elected Majority Leader on June 14, 1989, to fill the vacancy left when Majority Leader Thomas Foley was elected Speaker on June 6, 1989.
10 On September 28, 2005, Majority Leader Tom DeLay temporarily stepped aside as Majority Leader pursuant to Republican Conference rules.
11 Elected Majority Leader on an interim basis by the Republican Conference on September 28, 2005, to fill the vacancy created when Majority Leader Tom DeLay temporarily stepped aside.
12 Elected Majority Leader by the Republican Conference on February 2, 2006.

 


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