Sen. Max Baucus Reportedly to Be Nominated As Next Ambassador to China

The Senate Finance Chairman would be confirmed “immediately,” says a Republican senator.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (L), D-MT, speaks before US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testimony to Senate Finance Committee on the debt limit in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on October 10, 2013.
National Journal
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Matt Berman
Dec. 18, 2013, 12:34 p.m.

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.

Contributions by Elahe Izad and Michael Catalini
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