|U.S. Senator from Montana|
From: December 15, 1978 – January 6, 2015
|Predecessor||Paul G. Hatfield|
|U.S. Representative from Montana's 1st Congressional District|
From: January 3, 1975 – December 14, 1978
|Successor||John Patrick Williams|
|Spouse(s)||Wanda Minge (div.)|
|Religion||United Church of Christ|
Max Baucus is a former United States Senator from Montana. A Democrat, he was elected Senator in 1978, winning easy reelections until his retirement in 2015. A moderate, he chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over taxes, trade, Medicare, Social Security and the central issue of 2009, health care reform.
Baucus is a fifth generation Montanan, from a prominent ranching family. He took undergraduate and law degrees at Stanford in 1964 and 1967, hitch-hiked around the world, then held junior staff positions in Washington. Returning to Montana in 1971, he helped draft a new state constitution. He was elected to the Montana State Legislature in 1973 and served until 1974, when he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. Baucus was elected to the United States Senate in 1978.
Senator Baucus is the former Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, which he chaired previously from 2001 to 2003. Baucus was also a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the Senate Agriculture Committee, and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
As chairman of Finance, Baucus controlled the agenda for the two most visible issues of 2009, health care reform and cap-and-trade.
Max Baucus is one of the more moderate Democrats in the Senate. He voted for Bush trillion-dollar tax cuts in 2001 (the "Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001".) He successfully added a prescription-drug benefit to Medicare (as requested by Bush) and obtained millions in aid for drought-plagued farmers and ranchers in his home state.
Baucus at first was in favor of gun control, voting for the Brady Bill and the first ban on semi-automatic firearms. He has since switched his position, opposing most new gun control laws. In 1999, he was the only Democrat to vote against an amendment by Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) that sought to "regulate the sale of firearms at gun shows."
Baucus voted for the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, which made it harder to declare personal bankruptcy. In 2006, he voted for a constitutional amendment prohibiting the physical desecration of the American flag.
Although Baucus's record on the environment is more conservative than other Democratic members of the Senate, he has voted against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. He is also a strong supporter of abortion, receiving a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America.
As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Baucus was a major player in health care reform.
Baucus was a member of the bipartisan "gang of six" (three Democrats and three Republicans), tried, without success, to craft a bipartisan health care bill.
Baucus was a strong supporter of Israel. In the Senate, he was one of the largest career recipients of pro-Israel Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions, $319,348 up to 2006.
The 2002, Montana elections got national attention when Baucus' opponent, state senator Mike Taylor, accused Baucus of having implied that Taylor was gay in a campaign ad. However, the ad was paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, not by the Baucus campaign. The ad, which alleged that Taylor had embezzled funds from the cosmetology school he once owned, showed footage from the early 1980s of Taylor massaging another man's face while wearing a tight suit with an open shirt.
In 2006, Baucus returned $18,892 in contributions from groups connected to Jack Abramoff.
Baucus faced criticisms of being unethical when he recommended to the Obama administration that his girlfriend, Melodee Hanes, be nominated as a federal U.S. Attorney. The nomination was withdrawn. Baucus and Hanes–both divorced–lived together in Washington, where she worked for the Justice Department in a job that matches her expertise.
- Official Site
- Voting Record
- "WhoRunsGov" site
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress