WASHINGTON — Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee who steered President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul into law but recently broke with his party on gun control legislation, has decided to retire, Democratic officials said Tuesday.
Baucus, 71, has been a fixture in the Senate since 1979 and has been the top Democrat on the Finance panel since 2001. He faced a tough re-election bid next year, with opposition to the health care law in his state taking a toll on his approval ratings.
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A Democrat with an independent streak, Baucus supported the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and Obama’s signature 2010 health care law. He broke with his party this year to oppose both the Senate Democratic budget blueprint and a hotly fought effort to beef up background checks for gun purchases.
The officials spoke about his retirement decision on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly disclose the senator’s intentions.
Baucus, who helped write Obama’s health care law, stunned administration officials last week when he told the president’s health care chief that he thought the law was headed for a “train wreck” because of bumbling implementation.
Read More at OfficialWire . By Donna Cassata.