Enzi, left, hasn’t ruled out a run for the Budget Committee gavel against Sessions, right. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., hasn’t ruled out claiming his seniority on the Budget Committee and seeking the chairmanship against Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the panel’s current ranking member.
“There are a lot of conversations about committees and subcommittees and I am not going to talk about it now,” Enzi said when asked if he would seek the gavel.
Sessions was also coy.
“We’ve talked,” Sessions said, noting that he considers Enzi one of his best friends in the Senate.
“I wouldn’t want to comment on the details of the conversation,” Sessions added.
Asked if he expects to be chairman, Sessions said, “It’s always up to the committee and the leaders.” He later added, “Mike Enzi’s one of the best people here, and we’ve consulted. We’ve had a good conversation.”
Enzi has seniority on the Budget Committee over Sessions, who four years ago was pushed out as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa.
Sen. Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho, said he had not heard from Enzi on the matter, but acknowledged a gavel fight was possible.
“I don’t know,” Crapo said. “You’re not the first one to ask me if that is the case.”
“As a technical matter, the committee votes. As another technical matter all committees historically go with seniority,” Crapo said. “I suppose you could find an example where that didn’t happen, but it’s really rare.”
Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., both members of the panel, said they had not heard from Enzi either.
Two years ago, Enzi also left open the possibility of taking over as Budget Committee ranking member, but ultimately decided to let Sessions keep the post.
At stake is who will be the face of the party on budget issues and shepherd a budget resolution on the chamber floor — something that soon-t0-be-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other top Republican leaders have said will be a priority next year.
Sessions has staked out a position as perhaps the chamber’s most adamant opponent of the Senate’s immigration bill and President Barack Obama’s planned executive action on immigration. Sessions is pushing Republicans to block any funding for amnesty in a spending bill to keep the government running — a move that could ultimately provoke a government shutdown showdown.
Enzi is the main Senate Republican sponsor of the Internet sales tax bill killed this week by Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio. He also recently penned an op-ed in Roll Call calling for slashing $7.6 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade.
Neither Enzi nor Sessions voted for the bill reopening the government during last year’s shutdown over Obamacare.
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