Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus will not seek re-election next year, the senator announced on Tuesday.
"I have decided not to seek reelection in 2014," Baucus said in a statement. "I will serve out my term, and then it will be time to go home to Montana."
Baucus plans to fulfill his sixth term in the chamber and will step down before the next session in 2015. The lawmaker chairs the powerful Senate Committee on Finance, and he played an influential role in writing the federal health care law that passed in 2010.
Baucus had deeply angered the White House in recent days, first by opposing bipartisan legislation to enhance background checks of would-be gun purchasers. Baucus’ “no” vote helped kill the background check measure, and he was among the lawmakers President Barack Obama targeted with a blistering Rose Garden tirade against “shameful” inside-the-Beltway politics.
“There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this,” Obama said. “It came down to politics—the worry that the vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections. They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-Second Amendment.”
Baucus also warned at a recent hearing with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that implementing the federal health care law would be a “train wreck” over the next few years, a comment that angered both liberals supportive of the law and conservatives who pointed out that he helped shepherd it to passage.
Baucus will be the sixth Democrat to announce plans to retire at the end of the current term. His absence will pave the way for yet another competitive Senate election in which Republicans will seek to bolster their numbers in the chamber.
Olivier Knox contributed to this report.