The answers to your questions are as follows:
1. What is the purpose of the majority "Whip?
The US Senate glossary provides the following description
Whips - Assistants to the floor leaders who are also elected by their
party conferences. The Majority and Minority Whips (and their
assistants) are responsible for mobilizing votes within their parties
on major issues. In the absence of a party floor leader, the whip
often serves as acting floor leader.
The Majority whip is the assistant to the Majority party floor leader,
the Majority Leader.
The US Senate glossary defines the floor leaders as follows
Floor leaders - The Majority Leader and Minority Leader are elected
by their respective party conferences to serve as the chief Senate
spokesmen for their parties and to manage and schedule the legislative
and executive business of the Senate. By custom, the Presiding Officer
gives the floor leaders priority in obtaining recognition to speak on
the floor of the Senate.
Kids in the House provides the following list of duties of the party
Serve as assistants to party leaders
Help party leaders get bills passed
Keep party members informed and track politically important
Estimate the number of votes for a bill
Make sure all party members are present for votes on important
The Whips' authority over party Members is limited, meaning that
Members of the U.S. Congress may vote against the position supported
by the majority of their party because of personal opposition or
because of opposition within their constituencies.
2. Why is the office called a "whip?
Kids in the House (http://clerkkids.house.gov/learn_center/leadership/index.php#question4):
"Whip" or "whipper in" is a British term for the person responsible
for keeping the foxhounds from leaving the pack during a fox hunt. The
term was first used in the House of Commons in the late 1700s and in
the House of Representatives in 1897, when James A. Tawney (R-Minn.)
was appointed a whip by Speaker Thomas Reed (R-Maine) to help Reed
keep track of party members' whereabouts. A Democratic whip was
appointed soon thereafter, about 1901. The whip, and an official whip
organization, was first extensively used in the 1930s, when Democrats
chose assistant whips to be responsible for Members from specified
3. How does the whip fit into the party hierarchy?
As mentioned previously, the Majority Whip is the assistant to the
The Party Leaders are just below the US Vice President and the
President Pro Tempore on the Senate Organizational chart
Click on the boxes to see the name of the person currently in that
4. How is the whip chosen?
As mentioned previously, Whips are elected by their party conferences.
The US Senate provides the following description or the Party
Members of each major party meet in closed sessions known as party
conferences (or party caucuses) to elect floor leaders, make
committee assignments, and set legislative agendas. The Democratic
floor leader, Senator Tom Daschle, serves as chair of the party
conference, while the Republican party separates the positions,
electing a chairperson for the party conference, apart from the floor
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