From NBC's Doug Adams
In the wake of the John Ensign scandal, GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell announced two leadership changes today at a press conference. The shakeup was necessitated when Ensign stepped down from his leadership position because of his admitted extramarital affair.
John Thune (R-SD)
was elected to take over Ensign's post as the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee. It's the No. 4 position in the leadership. He's expected to have a big say in energy issues, including the upcoming cap and trade legislation and rural issues.
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
moves up into Thune's old position, vice chair of the Policy Committee.
During the presser, Thune said he "looked forward to not just challenging Democrats on what they're doing wrong, but advocating a forward looking, positive agenda for America's future."
The Senate Republican Policy Committee has about 20 staff members who work in a "think tank" to evaluate and develop legislation. The committee serves as a central clearinghouse for Republican senators, as its Democratic counterpart does for Democratic senators.