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Burr to Take Seat on Finance Committee

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) has snagged the coveted seat on the Senate Finance Committee vacated by former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), according to GOP sources.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) selected Burr over Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Mike Johanns (Neb.), who both made public their hopes to secure the plum spot on the tax writing panel. Finance also has jurisdiction over entitlement spending, a critical topic in the ongoing debate about reducing federal debt.

McConnell, whose relationship with DeMint is testy at best, appeared to have a tough choice when Ensign resigned amid ethics allegations earlier this month. DeMint is higher in seniority that Johanns, and there were few Republicans with more seniority who would want to give up another powerful committee seat in order to take the post.

Burr, however, is one slot ahead of DeMint in seniority. Burr will yield his seat on the Energy and Natural Resources panel to take Finance, sources indicated.

Other committee moves caused by Ensign’s departure include Sen. Dean Heller’s (R-Nev.) appointment to the Commerce, Energy and Natural Resources, and Special Aging panels. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) appointed Heller to replace Ensign.

Additionally, McConnell plans to appoint Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) to the Budget Committee and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The moves need to be ratified by the entire Senate.

David M. Drucker contributed to this report.