“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 CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerAdministration works to assuage critics over ZTE deal Overnight Defense: Trump decision on Korea summit coming 'next week' | China disinvited from major naval exercise | Senate sends VA reform bill to Trump Senate sends major VA reform bill to Trump's desk 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 CornynAdministration works to assuage critics over ZTE deal Dem leaders request bipartisan meeting on Russia probe House easily passes prison reform bill backed by Trump MORE (Texas), Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThunePoll: 8 in 10 people in key states concerned about driverless cars Hillicon Valley: Mnuchin urges antitrust review of tech | Progressives want to break up Facebook | Classified election security briefing set for Tuesday | Tech CEOs face pressure to appear before Congress Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (S.D.) and Policy Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSenate panel unanimously approves water infrastructure bill Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Watchdog to probe EPA email preservation MORE (Wy.). Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSenators introduce bill to overhaul sexual harassment policy Senate reaches deal on new sexual harassment policy Senators near deal on sexual harassment policy change MORE (Mo.) also serves as the Conference vice chairman, and Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranRepublicans think Trump is losing trade war Senators demand answers on Trump’s ZTE deal Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA 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 Davis RyanDischarge petition efforts intensify as leadership seeks unity Republicans fear retribution for joining immigration revolt Immigration petition hits 204 as new Republican signs on MORE (R-Wis.).

The New Hampshire lawmaker also made headlines late last year when she joined Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainFor .2 billion, taxpayers should get more than Congress’s trial balloons Overnight Defense: Pompeo lays out new Iran terms | Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture against Iran | House, Senate move on defense bill Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — GOP centrists in striking distance of immigration vote Dem leaders request bipartisan meeting on Russia probe Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA 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 Diane Rodham ClintonMueller moves ahead with Papadopoulos sentencing What's wrong with the Democratic Party? Just look at California BBC: Ukraine paid Cohen 0K to set up talks with Trump 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 Forbes KerryJohn Kerry to NYU Abu Dhabi: We can't address world problems by 'going it alone' Juan Williams: Trump's dangerous lies on Iran Pompeo: US tried, failed to achieve side deal with European allies MORE (D-Mass.) to the position.