Sen. Max Baucus Expected to Be Ambassador to China

Baucus in China could give Dems a head start in 2014 Senate race.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 17, 2013.
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The White House will nominate Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to be the next U.S. ambassador to China, multiple sources confirmed Wednesday. It is unclear, however, when Baucus, 72, would take the post.

[READ: Veteran Montana Democrat Baucus to Retire]

If Baucus assumes the role of U.S. ambassador to China in 2014, he will need the confirmation of his colleagues in the Senate. So far, he's winning their approval.

"I understand it's a done deal," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who serves on the Senate Finance Committee with Baucus, told Roll Call Wednesday. "I'm going to miss him if ..that is what they are doing."

Baucus announced in April that he planned on retiring in 2015. If he assumed the role of ambassador in 2014, his absence will allow another Democratic colleague to chair the powerful Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is favored to take that gavel.

During his time in the Senate, Baucus has spent his tenure committed to rewriting the country's tax code and negotiating trade agreements. The Montana senator also helped draft President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

[ALSO: In Montana, Democrats May Have Found Their Guy]

If Baucus is confirmed in 2014, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, would be tasked with appointing a replacement. According to the Washington Post, Bullock is leaning toward appointing Democratic Lt. Gov. John Walsh. Walsh is already running to fill Baucus's seat in the 2014 election. Appointing Walsh next year would give Democrats a head start in a Senate election that is already expected to be a tough haul for the party.

Baucus will replace Gary Locke, the former Commerce Secretary who has served as ambassador since 2011. Locke announced in November he would leave the China.

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