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Mike Enzi Decision Could Affect Budget Panel

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Sen. Mike Enzi could seek to take over as ranking member of the Budget Committee in the new session.

Enzi has served as HELPís ranking member for six years, and spent two years as chairman. Republican rules say that a Member cannot serve as chairman of a committee for six years, plus six as ranking member. Itís unclear what the limits are on years spent only as ranking member.

But the prevailing wisdom is that Enzi will move on.

ďIf the Republicans had taken control of the Senate, [Enzi] could have been HELP Committee chair, but since he has served six years as ranking member, I believe he canít keep that slot,Ē said Joel Packer, executive director of the Committee for Education Funding.

The Budget Committee ranking member position could also be attractive to Enzi, given that the panel is likely to be at the heart of the Congressional debate on fiscal issues.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who is currently the Democratic Conference Secretary, is expected to be chairwoman of the panel, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) may want to put in a new ranking member to counter act influence of Democratic leadership on the panel.

Alexander has the opportunity to become the ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, sources said, but subcommittee assignments are still in flux. He is currently the ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.

Coincidentally, HELP Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) also heads the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.

Lauren Smith and Paul Krawzak contributed to this report.

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