Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the Finance Committee, will retire from the Senate after 36 years, becoming the sixth Senate Democrat to leave the chamber in 2014.
"I don't want to die here with my boots on. There is life beyond Congress," the 71-year-old Baucus said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) is next in line to chair finance, but he announced three months ago that he will retire next year as well. This would make Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) the chairman of finance starting in 2015, assuming the Democrats retain control of the chamber.
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) joins the Montana Wool Growers Association in acknowledging the great leadership and support that Baucus provides in the U.S. Senate for sheep producers nationwide.
Peter Orwick, ASI executive director, relayed that the industry presented its top award to Baucus in 2010 for his support of the lamb and wool industries. The award, named after U.S. Congressman Joe Skeen of New Mexico, was presented in recognition of Baucus' support of wool production from farm-to-textile mill as well as the lamb market assistance of 1999-2006 addressing meat imports and U.S. competitiveness. The senator was instrumental in the 2008 Farm Bill providing the livestock indemnity and livestock forage programs to help producers deal with weather disasters ranging from drought to killer storms.
Baucus, a fifth-generation Montanan, was elected to the Senate in 1978 after two terms in the House. He became the top Democrat on the Finance Committee in early 2001. He has held the position ever since on the panel - which has jurisdiction over taxes, Medicare, Medicaid, health care and trade - as chairman when his party held a majority and as senior member of the minority when Republicans were in power.
"Max Baucus has shaped and guided legislation and policy affecting every American, and his service has been a benefit to all Montanans. He has been an invaluable leader in our caucus, and he will be sorely missed," Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement.
Baucus said, "Been here 40 years. No regrets. It is time to do something different."
Baucus joined Sens. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Tom Harkin of Iowa and Carl Levin of Michigan in announcing his retirement plans. Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Mike Johanns of Nebraska also have decided not to seek re-election next year.