“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 CorkerState spokesman: Why nominate people for jobs that may be eliminated? The Hill's 12:30 Report Senate Foreign Relations chair: Erdogan referendum win 'not something to applaud' 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 CornynSenate's No. 2 Republican: Border tax 'probably dead' McConnell: Senate will pass short-term funding bill to avoid shutdown The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Texas), Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn ThuneNet neutrality fight descends into trench warfare Hopes fade for using tax reform on infrastructure United explains passenger removal to senators MORE (S.D.) and Policy Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn BarrassoPoll: Sanders most popular senator in the US The animal advocate Trump climate move risks unraveling Paris commitments MORE (Wy.). Sen. Roy BluntRoy BluntUnited explains passenger removal to senators Disconnect: Trump, GOP not on same page GOP senator: There will never be full U.S.-Mexico border wall MORE (Mo.) also serves as the Conference vice chairman, and Sen. Jerry MoranJerry MoranAt the table: The importance of advocating for ABLE GOP lawmakers lead way in holding town halls Yahoo reveals new details about security 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 RyanOvernight Finance: Dems explore lawsuit against Trump | Full-court press for Trump tax plan | Clock ticks down to spending deadline Senate's No. 2 Republican: Border tax 'probably dead' New ObamaCare repeal bill on life support MORE (R-Wis.).

The New Hampshire lawmaker also made headlines late last year when she joined Sens. John McCainJohn McCainMeghan McCain: Obama 'a dirty capitalist like the rest of us' Top commander: Don't bet on China reining in North Korea Trudeau, Trump speak for second night about US-Canada trade MORE (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamTop admiral: North Korea crisis is 'worst I've seen' Comey to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee Overnight Defense: US moving missile defense system to South Korea | Dems want justification for Syria strike | Army pick pushes back against critics of LGBT record 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 ClintonOvernight Cybersecurity: Anticipation builds for Trump cyber order | House panel refers Clinton IT contractor for prosecution | Pentagon warned Flynn about foreign payments Trump’s foreign policy of more is about money Meghan McCain: Obama 'a dirty capitalist like the rest of us' 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 KerryEgypt’s death squads and America's deafening silence With help from US, transformative change in Iran is within reach Ellison comments on Obama criticized as 'a stupid thing to say' MORE (D-Mass.) to the position.