Sununu Given Seat on Finance Committee
Once again passing over Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has tapped a vulnerable Republican up for re-election this year to take a coveted spot on the Finance Committee. Though Enzi is the most senior Republican without a “Super A” committee assignment, McConnell instead chose junior Sen. John Sununu (N.H.) to take the panel seat previously held by former Minority Whip Trent Lott (Miss.), who resigned at the end of last year. McConnell’s committee picks were ratified Thursday during a meeting of the Senate GOP Steering Committee, an aide said. Enzi had made it well-known that he wanted the spot, saying the panel could use an accountant (his previous profession). Plus, Enzi was considered to have the inside track because the last opening on the panel was created when fellow Wyoming Sen. Craig Thomas (R) died last June. But in that instance, McConnell picked National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Ensign (Nev.) to replace Thomas, even though Enzi was more senior in the overall ranks of GOP Members. However, Sununu has long had his sights on the tax-writing panel, as do most Senators, because the committee wields so much influence. And Sununu has a tough re-election race this fall in a state that ousted many Republicans in 2006. It appears that Sununu gave up his seat on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee in order to take the slot and will be replaced on Banking by freshman Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.). Internal Republican rules say that Senators may only sit on one “Super A” panel, unless they receive a waiver from the Conference. The Super A list includes Armed Services, Appropriations, Finance and Foreign Relations. Enzi does not sit on any of the four. McConnell also decided to place Lott’s Mississippi replacement, Sen. Roger Wicker (R), on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee — on which Lott also sat. Wicker also landed spots on the Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs panels. Ensign will take Lott’s vacant slot on the Rules and Administration Committee.