Baucus Nomination Will Lead to Committee Shake-Up

January 8, 2014

While it hasn’t been officially announced yet, it appears that current Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will be nominated by President Barack Obama to become the next U.S. Ambassador to China, and the Senate will soon have a new committee chair early in 2014. The second-ranking Democrat on the committee, John D. Rockefeller (D – W.Va.), is unlikely to take over as he is the current chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, as well as the fact that he is not seeking reelection in 2014. Sen. Baucus’ successor will reportedly be Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

As incoming chair, Sen. Wyden will be left to craft a retroactive tax extenders package, address a long-term fix to the Medicare physician payment formula (which was patched for three months in the recent budget deal), and perhaps most importantly determine whether or not he will continue the push for comprehensive tax reform. Sen. Wyden has been very engaged in tax policy, having crafted his own reform bill with both former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.).

In addition to the above-referenced changes, Senator Mary Landrieu (D – La.), current chair of the Senate Small Business Committee, is expected move to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The most likely Senator to replace her as chair of the Small Business Committee is Senator Maria Cantwell (D – Wash). Senator Cantwell has been an advocate for improving small business’s access to capital and will be a strong candidate to replace Senator Landrieu, a champion of for many key small business issues.