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In a statement announcing the move, McConnell said Ayotte would serve as “counsel” to the leader, along with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who will reprise the role he took upon the retirement of longtime McConnell confidant Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., in 2011.
“Sen. Ayotte brings invaluable insight to our conference on issues that affect American families. Firmly committed to getting our fiscal house in order, she will perform a critical role as a member of the Senate Republican Leadership team,” McConnell said in his statement.
Ayotte will be the only female GOP senator at the leadership table. She replaces Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who retired this year.
A McConnell spokesman explained that the leader likes to supplement the views of his elected deputies — Whip John Cornyn of Texas, Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota, Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming, Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt of Missouri and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran of Kansas — with people from outside the leadership.
“He likes to keep fresh voices at the leadership table,” the spokesman said.