Obama to Tap Montana's Baucus as Next China Envoy

Move takes ObamaCare critic off the scene
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2013 11:42 PM CST
Updated Dec 19, 2013 12:03 AM CST
Montana Senator is Obama's Pick for China
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. questions Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as she testifies on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite,File)

Max Baucus is set to go from being a senator serving the 1 million people of Montana to ambassador representing America to the 1.3 billion people of China. The Democrat, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, is President Obama's pick to replace Gary Locke and officials say his moves to bring down trade barriers while insisting China play by the rules helped Obama make the choice, the New York Times reports. The 72-year-old had already announced that he won't seek re-election in 2014.

Trade issues aside, the choice looks like a canny political move, the Washington Post finds. Baucus was one of the key architects of ObamaCare, but had become a harsh critic of its rollout, warning back in April that a "huge train wreck" lay ahead if the administration didn't do a better job of explaining the act. There has been no official word on who will replace him on the Finance Committee, but top Senate aides predict Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, who currently heads the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, will get the nod. (Read more Max Baucus stories.)

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