Sen. Max Baucus, the veteran Montana Democrat who has served in the Senate since 1978, is expected to be nominated by the White House to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to China, according to several sources familiar with the matter.
Baucus began informing some of his colleagues and his staff about his upcoming nomination on Wednesday evening.
It remains unclear when the appointment would take effect, but Baucus would have to win confirmation from his Senate colleagues. If he leaves before his term ends, Baucus would relinquish his gavel on the powerful Senate Finance Committee.
Baucus, who has been a central figure in battles over trade, taxes and health care for a generation, has already announced he will not run for reelection in 2014.