Toomey to replace DeMint as GOP Steering Committee chairman

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.

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“Sen. Pat Toomey is a proven and trusted conservative and I'm very glad he's taking on this new role,” said DeMint. “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.

“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 PaulHow low is the bar for presidential candidates, anyway? Lawmaker seeks to investigate Obama's foreign tax compliance law Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears MORE (R-Ky.), Marco RubioMarco RubioRubio, Heck help out at car crash scene Florida paper endorses Clinton, writes separate piece on why not Trump GOP lawmakers slam secret agreement to help lift Iran bank sanctions MORE (R-Fla.) and Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Grassley accuses Reid of 'pure unfiltered partisanship' California to allow experimental drug treatments for the terminally ill 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 RyanIncomes are rising, but don't trust GOP to make it a trend GOP lawmakers slam secret agreement to help lift Iran bank sanctions 9/11 bill is a global blunder that will weaken US efforts abroad 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.