Obama pick could open top budget seat for Sessions

WASHINGTON (AP) - The selection of Republican Sen. Judd Gregg as commerce secretary could propel Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions to the top GOP spot on the Budget Committee and a lead role in negotiating fiscal issues with President Barack Obama.

Gregg, from New Hampshire, is currently the lead Republican on the budget panel.

Sessions is next in line barring a broader shakeup of top GOP committee assignments.

The post would give Sessions, a staunch fiscal conservative, an inside seat during budget negotiations and a national platform for criticizing Democratic spending plans.

It also would give him influence to get home-state priorities and pet projects moving toward federal funding.

Obama nominated Gregg as commerce secretary Tuesday.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)