In United States politics, a ranking member is the most senior member of a congressional or state legislative committee from the minority party.[1] On many committees the ranking minority member, along with the Chair, serve as ex officio members of all of the committee's subcommittees.

Both the United States Senate[2] and United States House of Representatives[3] use ranking members as part of their legislative structure.

When party control of a legislative chamber changes, a committee's ranking minority member is generally ensured to become the next chairman of the committee, and vice versa.[citation needed]

Congressional usage

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.

Other Senate committees refer to the ranking minority members as ranking member.[4]

The House of Representatives normally 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:

The position of vice chair as the designation for the ranking minority member has been used for the House January 6 Committee.

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 a member of the Senate, and often two ranking members from both bodies.


  1. ^ "Politics Glossary: ranking member". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on July 1, 2011.
  2. ^ "U.S. Senate: Glossary Term | Ranking Minority Member". Retrieved 2021-01-03.
  3. ^ Singman, Brooke (2020-02-05). "Who are the House committee chairs?". Fox News. Retrieved 2021-01-03.
  4. ^ "United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs: Home". Retrieved 2013-10-18.