CAPITOL HILL (TRNS) — Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will become the next U.S. Ambassador to China.
The Senate voted 96-0 today to confirm Baucus, who currently serves as the head of the Senate Finance Committee. Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden is expected to replace Baucus atop the committee.
Baucus will depart Congress after 35 years in the Senate and three in the House before that. In recent years, he played an instrumental role in helping craft the tax provisions within the Affordable Care Act, but was unable to pass a comprehensive bill to overhaul the U.S. tax code.
During his confirmation hearing last month, he famously declared, “I’m no real expert on China.” During his farewell speech on the Senate floor today, Baucus defended his vote for the healthcare law.
“Though the debate over the law continues, I’m proud to stand up for it because it is helping millions of Americans,” he said.
As the Associated Press reports, “with Baucus’ departure, Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock will name a temporary replacement, perhaps Democratic Lt. Gov. John Walsh, who is seeking the seat. That could give an appointee time to build a Senate record and gain visibility to defend the seat against the expected GOP candidate, Rep. Steve Daines.”