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Ensign Gets Finance Committee Seat

The Senate GOP Conference on Tuesday gave National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Ensign (Nev.) the Finance Committee seat that became vacant when Wyoming Sen. Craig Thomas passed away in early June.

Though there was some talk within GOP circles of giving the Finance seat to another Wyomingite, Sen. Mike Enzi (R), Ensign won the coveted slot instead.

“Sen. Ensign is excited about this assignment,” said Ensign spokesman Tory Mazzola. “He’s worked hard as a member of the leadership and these issues are not new to him. These are issues he worked on as a member of the Ways and Means Committee in the House and these are issues that have long been priorities.”

The slot on Finance — which oversees a broad swath of tax, trade and health care issues — will be a prime fundraising perch for Ensign, who is tasked with raising tens of millions of dollars for the NRSC.

It is common for party committee chairman in both chambers to be rewarded for their service with prime panel slots. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) also serves on Finance.

Also on Tuesday, Senate Republicans gave Thomas' replacement, Sen. John Barrasso, seats on the Energy and Natural Resources, Environment and Public Works and Indian Affairs committees. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) was named to take over Thomas' spot as the top Republican on Indian Affairs.

— Erin P. Billings

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