Wyden Era to Begin With Listening Tour

Outgoing Finance Chairman Max Baucus, headed to China, delivers emotional farewell on Senate floor.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 21: Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) listens as members speak during a markup meeting of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee March 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. The committee met to vote on the nomination of Sarah Jewell for the position of Secretary of the Interior.
National Journal
Michael Catalini
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Michael Catalini
Feb. 6, 2014, 2:43 p.m.

Sen. Ron Wyden is plan­ning to start his chair­man­ship of the in­flu­en­tial Fin­ance Com­mit­tee by sur­vey­ing his col­leagues on tax is­sues.

The Ore­gon Demo­crat is set to take the gavel from out­go­ing Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, who will be head­ing to Beijing as Pres­id­ent Obama’s am­bas­sad­or to China. Baucus’s con­firm­a­tion was ap­proved un­an­im­ously Thursday on a 96-0 vote.

Wyden, who has stayed largely mum on his pri­or­it­ies as Fin­ance chair­man un­til his as­cend­ance be­came of­fi­cial, said tax ex­tenders — le­gis­la­tion to ex­tend ex­pir­ing pro­vi­sions — could be used as a “bridge” to tax re­form.

He also ad­dressed trade, an is­sue that di­vides Demo­crats: Baucus and the White House agree with House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee Chair­man Dave Camp on giv­ing Obama trade-pro­mo­tion au­thor­ity, while Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id and oth­er lib­er­als op­pose the meas­ure.

“There have been so many changes in glob­al com­merce that a num­ber of sen­at­ors have simply in­dic­ated they want the time to have a chance to dis­cuss these is­sues, to walk through what some of these changes in glob­al com­merce mean for our coun­try and how vari­ous ap­proaches to trade law would af­fect that. So I have got some listen­ing to do with my col­leagues. And a num­ber of sen­at­ors have come up and said, we’re anxious to get to­geth­er on these is­sues,” he said.

For his part, Baucus bid farewell from the floor of the Sen­ate, at times be­com­ing emo­tion­al, es­pe­cially when speak­ing of his son Zeno and re­mem­ber­ing his de­ceased moth­er. Baucus, an ac­com­plished run­ner and the son of a ranch­er, also fondly spoke of his home state. “We’re out­door people,” he said. “It be­comes a part of our soul.”

One Re­pub­lic­an, Fin­ance rank­ing mem­ber Or­rin Hatch of Utah, watched the speech, while Wyden and Demo­crat­ic Sens. Maria Can­t­well of Wash­ing­ton, Thomas Carp­er of Delaware, Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Jon Test­er of Montana also listened from the floor.

Sarah Mimms contributed to this article.
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