CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines has taken over as chairman of the Senate Western Caucus.

Daines succeeds Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso, who founded and led the caucus for eight years.

During his time as chairman, Barrasso expanded the caucus to include more than half of the Republican conference and provided a forum for the 27 current members to join forces on policy issues.

The caucus has focused on energy, environmental, natural resource and economic issues that directly affect western and rural states.