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Durbin Set to Crack the Whip in Senate

By Olivia Leigh in News on Nov 15, 2006 6:26PM

After we thankfully learned that our country’s blood runs at least more than fifty percent blue, a considerable amount of shuffling and reorganizing has been occuring in Congress, with new leaders being elected to major positions in Congress.

Illinois’ own Sen. Dick Durbin was selected by other Senate Democrats to serve as Majority Whip under new Majority Leader, Harry Reid. The two currently serve as Minority Whip and Minority Leader. Their new roles will begin in January when the shift of power occurs.

However, if you’re like many of us, you may be thinking, “Hey, that’s great and all, but uh, what does a whip do?”

Whip%208.jpgAccording to a Durbin press release, his responsibilities as whip will be supporting the Majority Leader, leading "day-to-day action on the Senate floor," and “counting votes and monitoring legislation on the Senate floor.”

Current Majority Whip Mitch McConnell’s, R-Ky., Web site says whips “are elected by their parties and responsible for building support among their members on key issues. When the Majority and Minority Leaders cannot be present on the Senate floor, the Whips often serve as acting floor leader.”

And no, the term doesn’t derive from anything related to leather or chains. Actually, the word comes from a British fox-hunting phrase “whipper in," which described the person responsible for keeping the foxhounds from leaving the pack.

On the House side, another Illinois Democrat, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, has put in a bid for the No. 4 seat, Democratic Caucus chair. Prior to the election, politicos speculated that he would put in a bid for House Majority Whip (No. 3 seat in the House, due to the Speaker of the House position), but he announced his intentions to run for Caucus chair on Nov. 9. Emanuel, who is currently chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and is largely regarded as a major reason why Democrats pulled out the victory earlier this month, is expected to win the seat with flying colors.

Best of luck to our Illinois leaders in their new posts. We hope that Rahmbo will be able to improve some of his people skills with other House members, and that the Durbinator will be able to avoid more controversy during his term. Maybe then he'll be able to whip the Senate into shape. Whip it real good.