Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., is expected to be nominated as the next U.S. ambassador to China, Politico reports. Baucus, who has served in the Senate since 1978, announced his decision to retire from the Senate this spring, rather than run for reelection next year.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, tells National Journal that he expects Baucus to be confirmed "immediately" if the nomination happens, which he believes it will.
The nomination serves as a sign of peace between Baucus and the White House. Earlier this year, Max Baucus' "train wreck" line about Obamacare became a rallying call for Republicans. This fall, Democrats lamented to National Journal Baucus' "squeamishness" and his "record of giving concessions to Republicans" on tax policy.
But the ambassadorship is an obviously massive job. And his nomination would serve as a strong signal to China that the White House is planning on sending such an large figure in the budget and trade world to serve as ambassador. One of the last people to hold the position, John Huntsman, resigned his governorship to take up the post. He also, of course, launched a failed presidential campaign from there, which left the White House "furious." At 72, there's not much risk of Max Baucus bailing on the ambassadorship for brighter lights.