(TRNS) — Here’s the long-awaited official announcement from Obama:
“For more than two decades Max Baucus has worked to deepen the relationship between the United States and China,” Obama said. “The economic agreements he helped forge have created millions of American jobs and added billions of dollars to our economy, and he’s perfectly suited to build on that progress in his new role.”
The White House put out the following biography for Baucus:
Senator Max Sieben Baucus is the senior United States Senator from Montana. He has served in the U.S. Senate since 1978. He is Montana’s longest serving U.S. Senator and has the third longest tenure among those currently serving in the U.S. Senate. Senator Baucus is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, and a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. He is a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and chairs its Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Before his election to the U.S. Senate, Senator Baucus was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1978. He previously served in the Montana House of Representatives from 1973 to 1974. He received both a B.A. and a J.D. from Stanford University.
In a statement, Baucus said, “I am humbled by the nomination and deeply honored to have the opportunity to represent the United States in China.”
“If confirmed, my goal will be to further strengthen diplomatic and economic ties between our two nations,” he added.
The nomination comes at an interesting time. Baucus was set to retire next year, opening the door for Republicans to run for his Senate seat. Political observers say that by nominating Baucus now, the White House is providing Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D) with a chance to appoint a Democrat to fill Baucus’ seat sooner than later. Doing so several months before the 2014 election could help boost the name recognition of whichever Democrat Bullock chooses to appoint.
Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, was a key player involved with helping pass the Affordable Care Act. Lately, though, he’s expressed frustration with the law’s online marketplace, which he worried would be a “huge train wreck” back in April. In an interview with The New York Times that was published earlier this week, Baucus said he’s afraid that the healthcare law may not be “sustainable” since it was not supported by members from both parties.
Baucus must be confirmed by the Senate, which will likely take up his nomination sometime next month. Thanks to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) rule change regarding executive and judicial branch nominees, Baucus only needs a simple majority of votes to be confirmed.
If confirmed, Baucus would replace former U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who has served as Ambassador to China since August 2011.