Coburn lands powerful Finance post

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a leading proponent of cutting federal spending, has landed a post on the powerful Finance Committee, giving him jurisdiction over Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Coburn has pledged to tackle entitlement reform and voted to reform Social Security as a member of President Obama’s fiscal commission.

Coburn is in talks with Democratic and Republican colleagues to put together a package that would include cost-cutting proposals endorsed by 11 of the commission’s members.

A seat on the Finance panel gives Coburn a strong complement to his oversight position on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He plans to use his position as the senior Republican on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to oversee entitlements.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who is widely seen as a promising presidential contender in 2012, won the second open Republican seat on Finance.

There was widespread speculation in recent days that Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) would win a spot on Finance, but the panel roster released Thursday afternoon did not include his name.

Republicans replaced retired Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) on the panel and added a seat because Republicans increased their conference by six senators in the midterm elections.

Republicans will control 11 seats on Finance, compared to the Democrats’ 13, according to a list of Democratic assignments obtained by The Hill earlier Thursday.