Obama pick could open up top GOP slot on Budget Committee for Sessions

Published 4:57 pm Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The selection of Republican Sen. Judd Gregg as commerce secretary could propel Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions to the top GOP spot on the Budget Committee and a lead role in negotiating fiscal issues with President Barack Obama.

Gregg, from New Hampshire, is currently the lead Republican on the budget panel. Sessions is next in line barring a broader shakeup of top GOP committee assignments.

The post would give Sessions, a staunch fiscal conservative, an inside seat during budget negotiations and a national platform for criticizing Democratic spending plans. It also would give him influence to get home-state priorities and pet projects moving toward federal funding.

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In an interview Tuesday, Sessions said it is premature to assume what might happen until Gregg is confirmed and Republicans decide how to fill his committee seat.

But he said he would relish the opportunity to address the nation’s long-term budget woes.

“I’d be honored to try to do what we can to reverse the spending trend that the country is seeing,” he said. “It’s unsustainable.”

Obama nominated Gregg as commerce secretary Tuesday.