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Cornyn had previously served as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). Thune had reportedly been considering a challenge to Cornyn for the whip spot.

Prior to serving as Conference chairman, Thune served as vice chairman of the Conference and also was chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. 

Meanwhile, the race to become the next chairman of the NRSC has begun to heat up. Sen. Jerry MoranJerry MoranRepublicans rebuke Trump over Charlottesville remarks GOP senator wants classified briefing on North Korea McConnell faces questions, but no test to his leadership MORE (R-Kan.) is running for the job and Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanCongress should think twice on the Israel Anti-Boycott Act Senators push for possible FCC enforcement over Lifeline fraud The fight to protect the Affordable Care Act isn’t over MORE (R-Ohio) is also considering a bid.