Sen. Pat Roberts says his move from Ranking Member to Senior Member on the House Agriculture committee will not diminish his voice on behalf of Kansas farmers and ranchers and may even offer him a chance to be more influential.
In a telephone interview shortly after the announcement he would support the seniority invocation by Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi to be ranking member, Roberts said that the fallout from challenging Cochran was not something he felt was good for the Senate, the country, or Kansas Farmers and Ranchers.
"I have known Thad for 20 years and he is a good friend," Roberts said. "Seniority is a historic privilege in the Senate and to challenge it would create an issue all out of proportion to the reality of this situation."
Roberts will retain his position as senior member of the Finance Committee, a position that allows him to influence reform of the tax code and advocate for rural health care.
He said he is also now able to assert his own seniority privilege to gain status as Ranking Member of the Rules Committee.
"This is a committee that is increasingly important in the defense of the rights of the minority," he said. "I will advocate for the standard rules of order, for allowing amendments by anyone on any bill."
He said he will also have a voice in changes to campaign finance law or election law as a member of the Rules Committee.