By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D) from Selma was selected by U.S. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D) from Maryland to serve as one of Hoyer’s Chief Deputy Whips for the Democratic Party in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Rep. Sewell said in a written statement, “I proudly accept and am honored to be selected by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer to serve as one of his Chief Deputy Whips for the 113th Congress. I look forward to working with the Whip team and our outstanding Democratic Leadership in the House to advance the people’s agenda and mobilize my colleagues on important legislation. More importantly, my selection by Mr. Hoyer to be one of his Chief Deputy Whips will help me further the Democratic agenda that includes strengthening the middle class, improving our nation’s infrastructure, and putting Alabamians back to work.”
Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said, “I’m pleased to announce that Rep. Terri Sewell will serve as a Chief Deputy Whip for the 113th Congress. Rep. Sewell has been a proven leader among House Democrats and served effectively as a Senior Whip in the 112th Congress. I look forward to working with her in this new role as we continue to advance Democratic priorities, including job creation and building a strong middle class.”
Representative Sewell joins U.S. Representatives: John Lewis of Georgia (the Senior Chief Deputy Whip), G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Diana DeGette of Colorado, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, Jim Matheson of Utah, Janice Schakowsky of Illinois, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, and Peter Welch of Vermont as Chief Deputy Whips for the 113th Congress and will be considered part of the Democratic Party’s House Leadership team which is headed by Rep. Nancy Pelosi from California.
The “whipper in” is the person responsible for keeping the foxhounds from leaving the pack in a traditional English fox hunt. In the late 1700s the term began being used by in the British House of Commons. In 1897 Speaker Thomas Reed (R) from Maine appointed Rep. James A. Tawney (R) from Minnesota the first Republican whip in the U.S. House of Representatives. The first Democratic Whip was appointed in 1901. An official whip organization was used extensively by the Democrats in the 1930s. The Speaker of the House (when the Democrats controlled the House) or the minority leader (when the Democrats were in the minority) appointed the Whip until 1986. Since then the Whip has been elected by the Democratic Caucus. The Whip appoints his or her Chief Deputy Whips. The Whip also has a large staff to keep track of where members stand on votes before they happen and sway Democratic Congresspersons to tow the party line.
Chief Deputy Whips are responsible for helping the Democratic Whip mobilize the party’s vote on legislation before it comes to the House Floor to be voted on. Chief Deputy Whips also serve as liaisons between the Members and the Caucus, to help build strong support for the Democratic agenda and coordinates strategy within the Democratic Caucus. Since the Democratic Party is the minority party in the House the Whip is involved in planning opposition to the majority.
The Whip distributes information to Members such as the upcoming schedule of legislation, and provides information to Leadership concerning support within the caucus for various pieces of legislation. The Whip provides Members with the “Weekly Whip” and the “Daily Whip”, which detail by week and day respectively the legislation on the House floor.
Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell represents Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District.