Senator Thune’s Role As Majority Whip


The Senate is gearing up to vote on two bills this week, but neither is expected to get enough support to pass.

Senator John Thune is the second highest ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate, behind the Majority Leader. The Majority Whip has an important job.  We talked with Senator Thune about it when he first got the title.

“Essentially you’re tasked with trying to make sure your team succeeds and that you’re able to execute your legislative agenda,” Thune said. 

Senator Thune needs to get votes in the Senate.

“The challenge that Senator Thune has along with his deputy whips is to make sure there are no Republicans that break ranks,” former SDSU political science professor Bob Burns said.

“What we call whipping the vote, and that is finding out where people are. Counting heads and determining whether or not there are enough votes to proceed,” Thune said.

Thursday, no matter how hard Thune works, Burns doesn’t expect either bill to move forward. 

“Still very unlikely that either measure will get out of the Senate because it’s a 60-vote threshold and there are certainly enough Democrats to prevent 60 votes from favoring the Trump proposal in the U.S. Senate,” Burns said.

But Burns says it may get things in motion for the future.

“There’s been inaction for so long so maybe a little bit of action will create some inertia where a later attempt in a not too distant future will resolve in a better outcome,” Burns said.

Senator Thune’s office provided us with this statement:

“My top priority is being the best senator for South Dakota that I can possibly be, which is why it doesn’t matter what issue the Senate considers, I will always put the state’s interest ahead of anything else. While I’m new to the job of Senate Republican whip, I’m working hard with my colleagues to find a bipartisan solution that ends the partial government shutdown and responsibly funds border security. This week, Senate Democrats will have the opportunity to do what they say they support: reopening the federal government, helping federal employees who aren’t receiving pay, funding border security, and helping communities affected by natural disasters. Republicans have made several offers, but if Democrats vote ‘no’ tomorrow, the burden will again be on them to come forward with a serious proposal that has a chance of becoming law, because just saying ‘no’ will do nothing to end this shutdown.”

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