Durbin Tuesday promised to use his new role to help raise Illinois' profile in negotiations on spending bills and other legislation.
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid Tuesday was elected leader of the Democratics. Durbin, meanwhile, was unopposed to replace Reid as the party's whip, the Democrat's second-ranking Senate leader.
Durbin says he's "deeply honored" to be entrusted with the responsibility, and he says he looks forward to working with members of both parties on national security and other quality of life issues for Americans.
Durbin is the fifth Illinois senator to serve as a Senate leader. The last was Everett McKinley Dirksen, who was elected Republican whip in 1957 and minority leader in 1959.