Explorebigsky.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., announced on April 23 that he plans to retire in 2014.

Chairman of the influential Senate Finance Committee, Baucus, 71, has served six terms in the Senate and two in the House, and is second in seniority only to Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Baucus, who helped write the Affordable Care Act, caused a stir within his party last month as one of only four democrats to vote against expanded background checks for gun sales.

“In the next year and a half, instead of campaigning, I want to spend all my hard work, shoe leather, and luck working hard for the people of Montana,” Baucus said in an email to constituents.

“I want to make one thing very clear: there is important work left to do, and I intend to spend the next year and a half getting it done. I’m not turning out to pasture.”

The Senator noted that he is “focused on simplifying the tax code, tackling the debt, passing trade agreements, and implementing affordable healthcare for families,” among other things.

The Washington Post, which broke the news of Baucus’s retirement, ran a major feature on April 8 about his goal to fully rewrite the 5,600-page U.S. tax code, something that hasn’t been accomplished in more than 25 years.

“The task would be gargantuan, and much of Washington has called it impossible in these contentious times,” wrote author Lori Montgomery. “But after two years of watching President Obama and congressional leaders take on tax policy and other areas of the committee’s vast jurisdiction, the Montana Democrat …was ready to reclaim his turf.”

Baucus aims to simplify the tax code without raising revenue, again putting him at odds with his party, most of which would prefer an overhaul that raises revenue and reduces the deficit.

Baucus is one of six Democrats to announce retirement from the Senate, as Republicans hope to regain control in midterm elections.

Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a popular Democrat, told the Great Falls Tribune on April 23 that he wouldn’t rule out running.

Rep. Steve Daines, state Attorney General Tim Fox, and 2012 nominee and former congressman Denny Rehberg are all speculative Republican nominees.