By Alexander Bolton - 04/26/12 07:52 PM EDT
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) was selected by his colleagues Thursday to take over as chairman of the Senate Republican Steering Committee, an important engine for conservative policymaking in Congress.
Toomey will take over for Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who has served as chairman of the Steering Committee since 2006. Most Steering Committee chairmen serve either two or four years.
“I’ve enjoyed chairing this group for the past five years, and I look forward to working closely with Pat and the other Steering members to advance conservative principles at this critical time when our country needs them most,” he added.
Toomey will take over in early September.
The Senate Republican Conference has moved rightward on the ideological spectrum since DeMint took over as chairman of the Steering Committee five and a half years ago.
He has helped conservatives such as Sens. Rand PaulRand PaulOvernight Energy: Trump outlines 'America First' energy plan in North Dakota Overnight Regulation: GOP slams new Obama education rules Paul blocks chemical safety bill in Senate MORE (R-Ky.), Marco RubioMarco RubioWhat happens when the GOP base abandons the party platform? Puerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate Trump encourages Rubio to reclaim Senate seat MORE (R-Fla.) and Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonThe Trail 2016: Interleague play Sanders fundraises for Feingold in Wisconsin Senate race Pressure builds from GOP to delay internet domain transition MORE (R-Wis.) win election to the chamber.
DeMint was nearly booted from his Steering Committee post in 2009 when he endorsed Toomey over former Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) in a Republican primary.
DeMint made his endorsement shortly before Specter left the Republican Party to become a Democrat.
Toomey has emerged as a leading conservative voice on fiscal issues. Last week he unveiled an ambitious plan to balance the budget within eight years and create a small surplus in 2021 and 2022. The blueprint proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul RyanPuerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate Overnight Finance: GOP faces dilemma on spending bills | CEOs push Congress on tax rules | Trump talks energy Overnight Energy: Trump outlines 'America First' energy plan in North Dakota MORE (R-Wis.) would eliminate the federal deficit by 2040.
“I’m honored to lead the historic Steering Committee,” Toomey said. “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,” he added.