Pat Toomey's U.S. Senate GOP colleagues have tapped him to take over as head of the Senate Republican Steering Committe, a group that shapes conservative policy making on Capitol Hill.
Toomey will replace South Carolina Tea Party favorite Jim DeMint.
In handing over the job, DeMint in a statement said, “Sen. Pat Toomey is a proven and trusted conservative, and I'm very glad he's taking on this new role. I've fought hard over the last few years to help elect new conservatives to the Senate, and it's very rewarding to see them step into positions of leadership."
(History note: DeMint chose to endorse Toomey over Arlen Specter in the 2010 Republican primary. A few days after telling Specter this, Specter became a Democrat.)
Toomey's selection marks the confidence of his peers. While it's not an official leadership post, senators who have had the job before him have gone on to capture larger responsibilities. Among them, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl is now the second ranking in the Republican caucus and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is ranking Republican on the Budget Committee.
Toomey was also appointed by Republican leadership to the 12-member so-called "supercommittee" after publicly inserting himself in debates on issues of debt and the budget.
While the committee is geared to conservatives, most Senate Republicans attend the weekly lunch to talk strategy and policy. That will give Toomey tremendous influence in the fall when Congress will need to address another extenstion of the debt ceiling, the Bush-era tax cuts and transportation funding as well as appropriations bills to avoid a government shutdown.
Toomey officially takes over in September.
“I’m honored to lead the historic Steering Committee,” Toomey said in a statement.“It is a privilege to be entrusted with this position. Sen. DeMint has been a courageous leader, and I look forward to building on the great work he has done. The Steering Committee will continue to provide conservative solutions, especially to limit government overreach, restore fiscal responsibility, reinvigorate free enterprise and maintain a strong national defense.”
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