By a 96-0 vote yesterday, the Senate confirmed the appointment of Max Baucus (D- Montana) as Ambassador to China. As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Baucus has been known for his ability to work with the other side of the aisle to successfully push through tax measures, even at time upsetting members of his own party in the process. His leadership on the Committee will be missed.
The departure of Baucus from the Senate obviously creates an opening for the Chairmanship of the Finance Committee, which is seen as one of the most powerful and prestigious positions in the Senate. Speculation is that Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), who is currently a Finance Committee member, as well as Chairman of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, would assume the leadership role and give up his Energy chairmanship.
A tax code overhaul has been at the top of the Baucus-led Committee’s agenda for the past year, which has resulted in extenders and other legislation taking a back seat. The Committee has issued discussion drafts on international tax reform, tax administration, cost recovery and tax accounting issues, and energy taxation – all intended to be cornerstones to a tax reform discussion. Will the reform process continue to be the Committee’s top priority under new leadership?