In what is being billed as a reason for conservatives to be encouraged, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has been tapped to head the Senate Steering Committee, a conference of Republican lawmakers working to advance a conservative agenda.

Lee will take the helm from Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, chairman for the past two years.

In a prepared statement, Lee said:

The Senate Steering Committee will continue to develop and promote conservative solutions and facilitate vigorous discussion and debate on the issues that matter most to the country. I look forward to leading this effort and very much appreciate the support of my colleagues.

The Utah Republican will take over in January with the start of the 114th Congress — when Republicans may control the Senate for the first time since 2006.

“Mike Lee is a knowledgeable and principled movement conservative, and he has done a terrific job as vice chairman of the Steering Committee this Congress,” Toomey said. “I’m pleased to hand the gavel to him.”

To win back a majority in the Senate, Republicans will need to net six seats. According to the New York Times, Republicans now have a 58 percent chance of winning the Senate. Such a victory would give the Steering Committee — and Lee — more power in shaping the legislation that moves through the upper chamber.

Lee and Toomey both were elected to the Senate in 2010, when a wave of tea party conservatives won seats in both the House and the Senate. Since then, Republicans have billed the two as champions of the conservative movement.

“Conservatives all over America will cheer the selection of Mike Lee to lead the Senate Steering Committee,” said Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, a former senator from South Carolina who also chaired the Steering Committee.

DeMint added:

Mike is one of the most dedicated, sincere and passionate public servants I’ve ever had the honor of working with. He’s leading the fight for conservative reform within Congress and heading the steering committee will give him a platform to ensure conservative ideas are part of the national conversation.

The Senate Steering Committee, founded in 1974, serves as a forum for Senate conservatives to create, promote and advance a national agenda. In addition to DeMint, other former chairmen include Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and former Sens. Phil Gramm of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona.