President Barack Obama formally announced Friday plans to nominate Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) as ambassador to China.
“For more than two decades Max Baucus has worked to deepen the relationship between the United States and China,” Obama said in a statement Friday morning. “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.”
Obama’s announcement comes two days after news first broke that Baucus, who did not plan to run for reelection in 2014, was his pick to succeed the current ambassador to China, Gary Locke. Obama had not formally announced his plans to nominate Baucus until Friday.
In response Baucus said if he is confirmed he would focus on improving the economic and diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China.
“I am humbled by the nomination and deeply honored to have the opportunity to represent the United States in China. The U.S. – China relationship is one of the world’s most important bilateral relationships,” Baucus said in a statement. “If confirmed, my goal will be to further strengthen diplomatic and economic ties between our two nations.
Baucus also mentioned late Sen. Mike Mansfield (D-MT) who served as 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,” Baucus added.
Baucus’ selection also sets off a sort of game of musical chairs for Senate committee chairmanships.
The New York Times reported Baucus’s nomination means Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) will likely succeed him as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is ahead of Wyden in seniority on the committee but is retiring. With Wyden taking the Finance helm, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is next in line to chair the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) is actually in front of Landrieu in seniority but is retiring, too.
This post was updated.