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Rubio seen as possible successor to Burr as Intelligence chairman

Rubio seen as possible successor to Burr as Intelligence chairman
© Greg Nash

Senate Republicans see Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFlorida Republicans close ranks with Trump after Capitol siege Confirmation hearing for Biden's DNI pick postponed McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (R-Fla.) as a likely successor to Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOfficials discussing 25th Amendment for Trump following violence at Capitol GOP senator says Trump 'bears responsibility' for Capitol riot Republican infighting on election intensifies MORE (R-N.C.) as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, something that would be a major promotion for a lawmaker who contemplated leaving Congress only a few years ago.

The decision ultimately belongs to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBoebert communications director resigns amid Capitol riot: report Urgency mounts for new voting rights bill Senate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster MORE (R-Ky.) but he is expected to hew closely to the tradition of seniority, which put would Sen. Jim RischJim Elroy RischOvernight Defense: US sanctions NATO ally Turkey over Russian defense system | Veterans groups, top Democrats call for Wilkie's resignation | Gingrich, other Trump loyalists named to Pentagon board Will Biden choose a values-based or transactional foreign policy? GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results MORE (R-Idaho) as first in line to become chairman and Rubio in second.

But GOP senators expect Risch to stick with his chairmanship of the prestigious Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is designated a “Super A” committee under Senate Republican conference rules.

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GOP rules state a senator serving as a chairman of any “A” committee may not also serve as the chairman of another committee, a limit that was adopted in 1995.

Risch on Thursday declined to comment about whether he would give up Foreign Relations to chair the Intelligence Committee but colleagues doubt it.

“He’s, as you know, chairman of Foreign Relations. You’ll have to ask him but I assume he’ll want to keep that position,” said Senate Republican Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP For platform regulation Congress should use a European cheat sheet Streamlining the process of prior authorization for medical and surgical procedures MORE (S.D.).

Rubio, who’s chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, which is designated a “B” committee, on Thursday indicated he would be happy to become the next chairman of Intelligence or take over the Foreign Relations gavel if Risch switches panels.

“I’ll do whatever they ask but it’s not up to me. It’s a select committee. The majority leader makes the decision,” Rubio told reporters.

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Rubio indicated he would be happy to chair either panel.

“They’re both great committees, they’re the two ones I spent the most amount of time in until the last couple months,” he added, referring to the amount of time he spent crafting the popular small-business lending program that was passed as part of the CARES Act in March.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSocial media posts, cellphone data aid law enforcement investigations into riots 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Confirmation hearing for Biden's DNI pick postponed MORE (Va.), the Democratic vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said Burr’s resignation as chairman wouldn’t impact the committee’s work in completing its investigation of Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election.

“We have virtually completed our last volume. The chairman is temporarily stepping down in hope this will be resolved. My hope and prayer is that the committee still continues to operate in a uniquely bipartisan way,” he said. “Ninety-nine point nine percent of the work is already done in the last volume.”

The panel last month released its fourth and penultimate volume of findings in its Russia investigation. It found the intelligence community assessment presented a “coherent and well-constructed intelligence basis for the case of unprecedented Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

The previous three volumes addressed U.S. election security, Russia’s use of social media and the Obama administration’s response to Russian interference in the election. 

Burr's resignation will be effective at the end of Friday and whoever takes his gavel will likely serve as chairman or vice chairman — if Republicans lose their majority — of Intelligence in the next Congress.