Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) won the only contested leadership race amongst GOP Senate leadership Wednesday for Republican Senate conference vice chair over her colleague Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE).
Ernst is the first woman in eight years to have a spot amongst the Senate GOP leadership. She is the first woman from Iowa elected to Congress and the first female combat veteran to serve in the Senate. She is an Iraq war veteran who served 23 years in the military.
“It is a great honor for me to join this tremendous leadership team,” she told reporters Wednesday of assuming the fifth-ranking spot in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) were re-elected to their leadership positions by voice vote.
McConnell has reportedly wanted to add a woman to the Senate leadership team for a while after facing criticism last year over the lack of a woman on the team since Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) left her leadership post in 2010.
Other changes in the GOP Senate leadership included Sen. John Thune (R-SD) getting a promotion from conference chairman to whip and Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) moving up into Thune’s role. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) went from conference vice chairman to replace Barrasso as policy chairman.