Sen. Mike Enzi (left) said he will seek the ranking member slot on the Budget Committee, deferring to Sen. Jeff Sessions, who currently holds that position.
Updated: 11:31 p.m.
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) will not seek to be ranking member of the Budget Committee, clearing the way for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to remain in the post.
After speaking on the matter, Enzi has agreed to back Sessions as ranking member, according to an Enzi spokesman.
“America has to have a budget that works to get spending right. I hope he gets to do a budget. I am also on the Budget Committee and will continue to work with him,” Enzi said in an email from the aide.
With Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announcing this week that he is likely to be the new ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Enzi appears done as ranking member of that panel, having served for six years.
Enzi has seniority on the Budget Committee over Sessions, the current ranking member, but until now had not publicly said whether he would seek to unseat him. Just two years ago, Sessions was pushed out as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
Earlier today, Enzi’s office said he had made no decision, but did not rule out the possibility he would assert his seniority on the Budget Committee. Enzi also serves on the Finance Committee, but he does not have the seniority to take over from current ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
A GOP committee aide said earlier in the day that Enzi had already deferred to Sessions.
“Sen. Sessions has no greater friend than Sen. Enzi,” the aide said. “They’ve spoken and he graciously agreed to support Sen. Sessions for this next two year cycle as ranking member. “Sen. Sessions considers him a deeply valuable partner in fiscal reform and admires Sen. Enzi’s leadership in the Senate.”
"I deeply value Senator Enzi's friendship and, like my colleagues, greatly admire his leadership on so many vital issues," Sessions said in an email through an aide. "He is an invaluable partner on the budget committee and one of the most respected voices in Congress. I look forward to working with him to tackle our nation's fiscal challenges."
GOP ranking members are chosen by members of the committee, but their decision must also be ratified by the Republican Conference.
Enzi could become ranking member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, a spot that will be vacant because of the retirement of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). The next Republican by seniority is Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), but he is likely to take the ranking member spot of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Enzi or Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) would then be in line for the Small Business post.