Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch never much liked President-elect Donald Trump, even though he voted for him.
After first backing Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential bid, Risch said last month that he would support Trump, even though he said it was “distasteful” because of Trump’s character.
Now Trump’s election could help Risch, 73, get the job of his dreams on Capitol Hill: leading the prestigious Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a panel once chaired by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry.
Idaho Sen. Jim Risch is second in seniority among Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The last Idahoan to lead the panel was Democrat Frank Church, from 1979 to 1981.
It may still be a long shot, but Washington is abuzz with the possibility that Trump may select the current chairman, Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, as secretary of state. After speaking with Trump on Wednesday, Corker did not rule out the possibility.
Trump is reportedly also considering two others for the job: former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich and John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
If Corker gets the job and leaves the Senate, Risch is second in seniority among Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee, just ahead of Rubio. The last Idahoan to lead the panel was Democrat Frank Church, from 1979 to 1981.
Kaylin Minton, Risch’s spokesperson, said the senator had no comment on any possible committee assignments in the new Congress.
In an interview earlier this year, Risch said his first choice would be to lead the Foreign Relations panel, which helps develop and influence U.S. foreign policy. It also has jurisdiction over all diplomatic nominations.
If Corker stays put, Risch would still be in line to become a full committee chairman for the first time, taking over as the head of the Senate’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. He would get the gavel from Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, who’s retiring.
Risch, a second-term senator, made no mention of Trump and offered no congratulations to the president-elect in a statement released by his office.
“Many were surprised by the outcome of Tuesday’s election,” Risch said. “Americans have clearly expressed their desire to move in the direction of our founders’ vision of freedom from government intrusion and the opportunity for personal success.”
Many were surprised by the outcome of Tuesday’s election. Americans have clearly expressed their desire to move in the direction of our founders’ vision of freedom from government intrusion and the opportunity for personal success.
Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch
With Republicans maintaining control of the Senate, Idaho’s senior senator, Mike Crapo, is also in line to get his first full committee chairmanship in 2017. After winning a fourth term Tuesday, Crapo’s expected to lead the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Crapo, who backed Trump, released a statement congratulating the president-elect and said voters had “sent a message by electing a Republican president and maintaining Republican majorities in the Senate and House.”
“That message is that voters are looking for leadership that results in limited government, lower taxes and a free market economy,” Crapo said.
Idaho’s two Republican House of Representatives members pledged to work with Trump, as well.
Rep. Raúl Labrador called Trump’s election “a ringing call for change” and said Congress needed to take steps to strengthen the economy.
“We can begin by repealing and replacing Obamacare, rolling back excessive federal regulations and enacting equitable tax reform,” Labrador said.
Rep. Mike Simpson said Congress had to work together “with civility and respect” and leave the “bitter rhetoric” of the presidential campaign behind.
“Now that the election is over, it is time for our country to move forward and heal,” he said.