Senate confirms Baucus as China ambassador

Long-time friend of agriculture will leave Senate after serving there for more than three decades.

On Feb. 6 the Senate voted 96-0 to approve the nomination of Senator Max Baucus (D., Mont.) to be the next U.S. Ambassador to China.

Baucus, who is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee, has been a longtime advocate for agriculture, taking the lead on many issues that benefit farmers such as free trade agreements and numerous farm bills, among others. He’s served for more than three decades in the Senate.

“After nearly four decades serving the people of Montana, I am humbled to have this opportunity to represent the United States in China. The relationship between the U.S. and China is one of the most important in the world, and we, both China and the United States, need to get it right,” Baucus said. “As ambassador, I hope to help build a stronger relationship between our two countries – one that benefits the American people and encourages partnership to promote security and prosperity around the world.

Montana laws allows for the governor to appoint a replacement until the general election in November. Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock has not said who he will appoint, but he could name Lt. Gov. John Walsh who is running for the Senate seat in 2014, reports indicate.

Baucus’s departure also leaves Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) to become the next chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

In recent months Baucus had introduced a Trade Promotion Authority bill with Republicans. However, with his departure, it is expected Wyden will like to have his say in the final legislation and would prefer to go back to the drawing board a the bill designed to give the president more negotiating power in trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership and trade deal with the European Union.

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