U.S. Rep.-elect Steve Womack, R-Rogers, continues to add to his Congressional responsibilities.
Womack was asked Thursday (Dec. 30) by U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., if he would serve as a member of the exclusive whip team. McCarthy will be the House GOP whip during the next Congress, which makes him the No. 3 Republican leader in the House.
The whip team post follows Womack’s surprise placement — announced Dec. 9 — on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Typically, freshmen members of the U.S. House are assigned to B committees and move up to A committees after being re-elected and gaining seniority in the House. The other A committees are Ways and Means, Financial Services, Rules, and Energy and Commerce.
Typically, freshmen members of the U.S. House are assigned to B committees and move up to A committees after being re-elected and gaining seniority in the House.
The whip team, which helps the whip leader collect and count floor votes in the House, is a small and powerful group. There are only nine members of the Democratic whip team under House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn.
Clyburn’s whip website offers this explanation of the history and function of the office: “The name for the position of Whip is derived from the term ‘whipper in’, which is a British term for the person responsible for keeping the foxhounds from leaving the pack. It was first used in the House of Commons in the late 1700s. In 1897, Speaker Thomas Reed (R-ME) first adopted the term in the U.S. House of Representatives when he appointed Representative James A. Tawney (R-MN) a whip to help him keep track of party Members. The first Democratic Whip was appointed in 1901, and an official whip organization was first extensively used in the 1930s by the Democrats. … Today’s Majority Whip is charged with mobilizing the party vote on important legislation, acting as a liaison between Members and the Democratic Leadership, and coordinating strategy within the Caucus.”
McCarthy, who has become famous for his “cut-as-you-go” alternative to the previous “pay-as-you-go” approach to the federal budget, is expected to be a bridge between House leaders and the large incoming group of Republican freshmen who may be more conservative than the incoming House leadership. Womack said he is honored to be asked to serve as a freshman in a role often offered to more senior House members.
“What a great honor. To think that he (McCarthy) thinks enough of my skills and my leadership abilities that he would ask me to help achieve the objectives that brought us to the majority we earned in November is just a great honor,” Womack said.
Womack also noted that the political safety of Arkansas’ 3rd Congressional District and the “enormous economic clout” that exists in the District also helps his cause in gaining leadership positions in the new Congress. Womack won the 3rd District, which has been solidly Republican since 1967, with 72% of the vote.