Max Sieben Baucus (born December 11, 1941) is the senior United States Senator from Montana and a member of the Democratic Party. First elected to the Senate in 1978, as of 2010 he is the longest-serving Senator from Montana, and the fifth longest-serving U.S. Senator currently in office.As the current chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Baucus has played an influential role in the debate over health care reform in the United States. He is also chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, and a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and is chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Before his election to the Senate, Baucus was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1975 to 1978, representing Montana's (now defunct) 1st congressional district. He previously served in the Montana House of Representatives from 1973 to 1974. On August 9, 2011, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appointed Baucus to the United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
Baucus was born to a wealthy ranching family in Helena, Montana, and graduated from Helena High School in 1959. He attended Carleton College in Minnesota for a year before transferring to Stanford University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics in 1964, and was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. After graduating, he attended Stanford Law School and graduated with a Juris Doctor in 1967. After finishing law school, Baucus spent three years as a lawyer at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C. He moved back to Montana in 1971 to serve as the executive director of the state's Constitutional Convention, also opening a law office in Missoula, Montana.In November 1973, Baucus was elected to the Montana House of Representatives as a state representative from Missoula. In November 1974 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, and was re-elected in 1976.
Baucus was elected to the U.S. Senate on November 7, 1978 for the term beginning January 3, 1979, but was subsequently appointed to the seat by Montana's Democratic Governor Thomas Lee Judge on December 15, 1978 to fill the brief vacancy created by Senator Paul G. Hatfield's resignation. He has served consecutively ever since.
In March 2009, Baucus recommended his live-in girlfriend and recent state director, Melodee Hanes, for the vacant position of U.S. Attorney for Montana.
Baucus's romantic relationship with Hanes was discovered in December 2009, after Hanes had withdrawn her name from consideration and Michael Cotter, another of Baucus's recommendations, was selected.
Baucus's campaign materials claim that he is a moderate Democratic member of the Senate, occasionally breaking with his party on the issues of taxes, the environment, and gun control. The web site That's My Congress gives him a 23 percent rating on progressive issues it tracks. NARAL Pro-Choice America's political action committee endorsed Baucus during his 2008 election campaign.
Baucus has come under fire from critics calling him a beltway insider who no longer really lives in Montana and only occasionally comes to visit. Until 1991, Baucus owned a house in Missoula, where he practiced law for three years before running for Congress in 1974. He didn't own a home again in Montana until February 2002, when he bought half of his mother's house from the Sieben Ranch Company, the ranch started by Baucus's great-grandfather in 1897.
The ranch company, and Baucus's mother, still own the other half of the house. Baucus lives in Washington, D.C.'s Capitol Hill district. As of November 2007, the Missoulian newspaper reported he owned no other property in Montana. In April 2009, The Associated Press reported that Baucus and his second wife, the former Wanda Minge, are divorcing after 25 years of marriage and have "parted ways amicably and with mutual respect.". Starting in 2008, Senator Baucus has been romantically linked with his state office director, Melodee Hanes, whom he later nominated to the vacant position of U.S. Attorney in Montana. Hanes then withdrew her nomination before the conflict of interest was discovered, because according to Baucus they wanted to be together in Washington, D.C. Both the Senator and Ms. Hanes had ended their marriages within the previous year. Senator Baucus claims he was separated from his wife before he began seeing Ms. Hanes. On January 3, 2011, Baucus' office announced that he and Ms. Hanes would be getting married. Baucus has one son, Zeno, by his first wife, Ann Geracimos. Baucus and Geracimos divorced in 1982. Baucus has completed a 50-mile ultramarathon and has crewed for female winner and fellow Montana native Nikki Kimball at the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run, which he hopes to run in the future.
May 31st, 2011