Definitions

Ranking member

Ranking member

In United States politics, the ranking member or ranking minority member is a member of a congressional committee from the minority party, frequently the member with the highest seniority. For example, if the Democrats are in control of a house of Congress at a given time, the senior Republican member of the committee is often the ranking minority member. The most senior member from the majority party frequently serves as the chairman of the committee. In many committees, the ranking member, along with the chairman, serves as an ex officio member of all subcommittees of the committee.

When control of a house of Congress changes, a committee's ranking minority member is likely, though not assured, to become the next chairman of the committee.

Ranking Member vs. Vice Chairman

Four Senate committees refer to the ranking minority member as Vice Chairman. The following committees follow the Chairman/Vice Chairman structure for the majority and minority parties.

The House of Representatives does not use the term vice chairman for the ranking minority member, though some committees do have a vice chairman position, usually assigned to a senior member of the majority party other than the chairman. House committees that follow this structure are:

Joint Committees of the House and Senate operate in much the same way, with a chairman and vice chairman from the majority party, alternating between a member of the House and member of the Senate, and often two ranking members from both bodies.

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