Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., a senior Democrat on the panel since 2001, will not seek reelection in 2014. The chairmanship would shift to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., if Democrats retain their majority in the Senate after the next election cycle. Ranking member Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, would take the reins if Republicans control the Senate.
Those with close ties to Baucus said that, following retirement, he will be able pursue tax reform without concern for political consequences. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., who is also nearing the end of his tenure as head of the House tax-writing committee due to term limits, said Baucus has made clear his commitment to comprehensive tax reform. ”Max is a true legislator and friend for whom I have great respect, and I look forward to continuing our work to fix the tax code and protect and preserve our entitlement programs for current and future beneficiaries,” said Camp.
Baucus also stressed that he is prepared to move tax reform before he retires. ”I will continue to work on simplifying and improving the tax code,” he said. ”I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, who served as chairman and ranking member alongside Baucus, said he and the Montana lawmaker have been very close professionally during their years in the Senate. ”We ran the Finance Committee for 10 years together, and every bill except for three or four was bipartisan,” said Grassley. ”The Senate will be worse off as a deliberative body when Senator Baucus leaves.” Grassley lauded Baucus as a lawmaker who sought to produce legislation through ”comity and consensus.”
Baucus has often collided with Democratic leadership during his tenure on the Finance Committee, as he helped write the bills containing the 2001 and 2003 Bush-era tax cuts that Democrats vehemently opposed and, of late, he has riled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., over how to direct additional revenue gained through tax reform. Senate Democratic leadership wants the extra funds to go toward deficit reduction while Baucus, and most Republicans, want the funds derived from closing tax loopholes and certain deductions, to help offset a lowering of corporate and individual tax rates.
In a brief statement after the news broke early on April 23, President Obama issued a statement thanking Baucus for his years of service in Congress. ”As Finance Committee chairman and a senior member of both the Agriculture and the Environment and Public Works Committees, Max has been a leader on a broad range of issues that touch the lives of Americans across the country,” said Obama.
By Jeff Carlson, CCH News Staff