McConnell names Ayotte to replace Hutchison as counsel

“Sen. Ayotte brings invaluable insight to our conference on issues that affect American families. Firmly committed to getting our fiscal house in order, she will perform a critical role as a member of the Senate Republican Leadership team,” McConnell said in a statement.

Ayotte will serve alongside Sen. Bob CorkerBob CorkerGOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote Trump’s campaign shows hints of change MORE (R-Tenn.) in the informal leadership post, and replaces Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), who retired this year.

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Ayotte and Corker's positions differ from the Senate's official Republican leadership, which includes Whip John CornynJohn CornynGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Senate to vote on two gun bills Senate Dems rip GOP on immigration ruling MORE (Texas), Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn ThuneRepublicans question Trump's trip to Scotland Short-term FAA bill would likely extend into next year, GOP chairman says Civil liberties group mobilizes against surveillance amendment MORE (S.D.) and Policy Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn BarrassoGOP senator: Obama ‘believes he is above the law’ Republican senator expects Trump will 'embrace' GOP platform Sunday shows preview: Bernie soldiers on MORE (Wy.). Sen. Roy BluntRoy BluntGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns White House makes last-ditch plea for opioid funding MORE (Mo.) also serves as the Conference vice chairman, and Sen. Jerry MoranJerry MoranSenate panel approves lifting Cuba travel ban Boost in Afghan visas blocked in Senate Senate contradicts itself on Gitmo MORE (Kan.) chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Ayotte has taken an increasingly prominent role in the Senate, partially propelled by her surrogate work for Mitt Romney's campaign last fall. She was reportedly considered as a candidate for Romney's running mate before the former Massachusetts governor selected Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanDemocrats plan 'day of action' to keep spotlight on guns Dem protest ignites debate about control of House cameras Gun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA MORE (R-Wis.).

The New Hampshire lawmaker also made headlines late last year when she joined Sens. John McCainJohn McCainMarines reignite debate on women in combat Gun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Report: Prominent neoconservative to fundraise for Clinton MORE (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote Senate Republicans may defy NRA on guns MORE (R-S.C.) in questioning the qualifications of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. Rice was seen as President Obama's top choice to replace Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonClinton camp raffling 'Hamilton' with Hillary Sunday shows preview: Next steps after Trump upheaval Bernie fights for relevance MORE as secretary of State in his second term. 

Rice met directly with Ayotte but was unable to win her favor, amid GOP criticism of the ambassador's handling of the September attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Obama later nominated Sen. John KerryJohn KerryDozens of Clinton meetings left off State schedule: report Overnight Cybersecurity: Sit-in disrupts cyber hearings | Trump tries to defend claim Clinton was hacked Kerry backs government access to encrypted data MORE (D-Mass.) to the position.

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