CHEYENNE — If Republicans capture the U.S. Senate in November, Wyoming’s senior senator will become a committee chairman, a powerful role that determines what bills are discussed.
That’s what Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., told a crowd Wednesday night at an open-house event at his re-election campaign headquarters.
The former Gillette mayor and state legislator has been serving in the U.S. Senate since 1997. Enzi, 70, faces Democrat Charlie Hardy, a former Catholic priest, Republican Vietnam veteran Thomas Bleming of Lusk, Laramie pilot and independent Curt Gottshall, and Casper cook and independent Joseph Porambo.
The primary is Aug. 19. The general election is Nov. 4.
“There are a couple things I want you to know about Mike Enzi,” said his wife, Diana Enzi, at the event. “One is that every year he has been in office, he’s returned 10 to 25 percent of his budget back to the government. He also gave all of his salary during the sequester. All of it went back to the government. He’s passed over 100 bills, and the worst vote was 85 to 15. So he works really hard.”
If Republicans take the Senate, the decision of who gets to be a chairman is based on seniority, Enzi said, followed by a vote that’s more of a formality.
Enzi would get to choose which committee he wants to chair, including the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the Senate Budget Committee, the Senate Small Business and Enterprise Committee, the Senate Finance Committee or even the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which he is not a member of but could get.
His decision on which committee he’ll want will have to do with the highest-ranking Democrat on the committee.
“I’ve got to see who the ranking member would be,” he said. “I want a ranking member who’s workable. You know, if it’s just going to be everything blocked, then there’s not a lot of point to do it.”
Enzi described Health, Education, Labor and Pensions as a committee with a lot of bills that he previously chaired from 2005-07.
Enzi is an accountant and has some interest in the Budget Committee. He would like the Senate to budget for two fiscal years, like Wyoming does.
“We have too much money to look at in one year, so we ought to take two years to look at it,” he said.
The Senate crafts 12 spending bills. Enzi envisions a biennium budget in which the six toughest, most controversial bills are debated just after elections and the easier six bills are tackled before the next election, he said.