The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Obama formally nominates Baucus for China post, raising trade bill questions

President Barack Obama on Friday formally announced his intention to nominate Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., to be U.S. ambassador to China.

The nomination raised the question of whether Baucus would be able to lead the Senate to pass a trade promotion authority bill before he leaves the Senate or whether that legislation would languish.

But Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said over the weekend that he hopes the Senate will pass it before Baucus is confirmed and that consideration of a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will follow

In his statement, Obama said, “For more than two decades Max Baucus has worked to deepen the relationship between the United States and China. 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.”

In his response, Baucus said he was "humbled" by the nomination and hoped to follow in the footsteps of the late Montana senator, Mike Mansfield, who became ambassador to Japan.

“It's an honor to be presented with an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of my mentor, Mike Mansfield, who worked to strengthen and improve America’s important relationships throughout Asia. I welcome this opportunity to continue to serve Montana and my country.”

Senate Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, praised the nomination, an indication that it will have clear sailing in the Senate.

“Max is a dear friend and proven leader who’s always been willing to work across the aisle, fight for Montana and stand up for what he believes is right,” Hatch said in a statement.

"His depth and breadth of knowledge will provide him with a strong foundation that will serve him well as the next U.S. envoy to China. This is a tremendous opportunity for Max, who I know will work tirelessly to strengthen U.S.-China relations, which is incredibly important in today’s competitive global economy. I wish Max all the best as he takes on this next chapter of his life. I know I speak for many in saying that Max Baucus’ departure will leave a lasting impact on the Senate. He will be sorely missed.”

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., also supported the nomination.

“For nearly 40 years, Max has been a dedicated public servant for the people of Montana. With his years of service on the Finance Committee and deep knowledge of U.S. trade policy, Max will be a tremendous representative for the American people in China. I will miss his leadership and partnership in the Senate, but I know he will continue to serve Montana and the nation to the best of his ability.”