Democrat Jon Tester of Montana catapulted on Friday to the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, senators said.
The bulky, soft-spoken former music teacher and farmer, who is instantly recognizable for his flat-top haircut, will now chair the panel that controls more than half the federal government’s discretionary budget.
“I’m honored to take on this new role that’ll give me the opportunity to better fight for our service members in Montana, across the country, and around the world,” Tester said in a statement.
Tester, who had been ranked in seniority near the middle of the Democrats on the panel, will now leap ahead to replace Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., in the chairmanship. Durbin is both the majority whip and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and thus could not also retain the chairmanship of the Defense subcommittee.