Updated 7:23 p.m. | Sen. Michael B. Enzi will be the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee in the next Congress.
The Wyoming Republican will get the job over current ranking member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who announced Wednesday he'd be deferring the position. Enzi has seniority on the panel, meaning his decision to assert his position would have made his selection likely in the event it was put to a vote of the Republican members of the committee.
"Mike is an accountant and a small businessman who understands the need to balance budgets and tell the truth about the numbers. He is a man of integrity and principle, respected by all of his Senate colleagues. I am eager to assist him next year, and I hope to tackle the important issue of welfare reform," Sessions said in a statement.
Enzi's office described the agreement between the two senators as giving Sessions a key voice in cutting wasteful government spending, as well as working on entitlement programs.
"Jeff is an outstanding leader and an outstanding speaker. If this were football, Jeff would be an all-star linebacker, corner, and safety all at the same time. He is our first line of defense on many issues. The team needs him and Jeff will be right there with his expertise taking the lead on welfare reform and, where we will miss Senator Coburn, Jeff will be there eliminating duplication and waste," Enzi said. "He will also be eliminating reports of little value and forms that don't produce significant results. He will handle those and other critical parts."
In a statement Wednesday, Sessions said he looked forward to "being active as a senior member" on the Armed Services, Budget, Environment and Public Works, and Judiciary committees.
The ranking member of the Democratic caucus on the panel will be Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt.
"I look forward to working with Sen. Enzi on the Budget Committee to put together a budget which reflects the needs of the working families of our country, and not just powerful special interests," Sanders said in a statement.
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and incoming senator David Perdue of Georgia will be the new GOP members on the Budget panel in the new Congress. The post is important in the majority because it has the responsibility for drafting a budget resolution outlining priorities and laying the groundwork for both consideration of spending bills and the reconciliation process.
Reconciliation would provide Republicans with a rare opportunity to pass legislation without the need for Democratic votes, since they have well short of the filibuster-proof margin of 60 as they assume the majority in the new Senate.
"Overall, I remain deeply concerned about falling wages and the lack of good jobs for Americans," said Sessions. "Too many of our citizens are either stuck in place or falling behind, and too often their needs are forgotten. Our new GOP Congress must put the needs of Americans first."
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