Washington (CNN)— Sen. Max Baucus’ office confirmed Saturday the Montana Democrat was in a relationship with a woman he also recommended for U.S. Attorney.
According to a statement released by the senator's office, both Baucus and Melodee Hanes decided to withdraw her name for personal reasons, adding that their relationship was not the cause of their respective divorces.
"When Senator Baucus and Melodee Hanes, his former state director, realized that their relationship was developing beyond a purely professional nature, Melodee began the process of resigning her Senate employment," Ty Matsdorf, a spokesman for Sen. Baucus said in a statement. "With an extensive background as a prosecutor and extensive legal experience, Ms. Hanes submitted her name for consideration for the U.S Attorney position from Montana."
The statement, which includes a copy of Hanes' resume, shows years of political and defense experience. Her name was one of six recommended for U.S. Attorney. After "extensive evaluation," by a third party, Hanes' name was submitted as one of three to be considered for the position, it said. After further interviews by Baucus and the junior senator from the state, Jon Tester, Hanes' name was submitted to the White House along with two other top candidates, it added.
"While her personal relationship with Senator Baucus should in no way be either a qualifier or a disqualifier for the position, during the nomination process and after much reflection, both Senator Baucus and Ms. Hanes agreed that she should withdraw her name from consideration because they wanted to live together in Washington, DC," Matsdorf said.
Baucus, the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, has been in the spotlight for his prominent role in the health care debate.
UPDATE: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement about the development, saying "Max is a good friend an outstanding Senator and he has my full support."
A Democratic leadership aide defended Baucus saying, "she withdrew of her own accord and is not the nominee. There's no real issue here other than that the press likes a good story where they can use the word "girlfriend." It's doubtful that there's any ethical and certainly no legal issues."
–CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama and Vice President Biden both called Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus to congratulate him on committee passage of a health care bill, according to Finance Committee spokesman Scott Mulhauser.
(CNN) - Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, is facing heightened criticism from members of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party over his panel's health reform bill that lacks the so called "public option" for health insurance.
In a new 60 second commercial that begins running Tuesday in Baucus' home state and in Washington, D.C., Montana farmer Bing Perrine urges Baucus to support a public option - something the senator has ruled out in a bid to gain bipartisan support for the measure. Perrine said that he faces more than $100,000 in medical bills because of heart problems.
The ad is being paid for by the two liberal advocacy organizations: Progressive Change Committee and Democracy for America.
The Montana Democrat has instead backed more limited health cooperatives, a move that so far has failed to attract any firm GOP support and has angered some members of his own party. Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia have introduced an amendment to Baucus' bill that would add a public option. The amendment will be voted on as early as Tuesday in the Finance committee.
"Senator Baucus, when you take millions of dollars from health and insurance interests that oppose reform, and oppose giving families like mine the choice of a public option, I have to ask: 'Whose side are you on?'" Perrine, said in the new ad.
Progressive Change Committee and Democracy for America said they will initially spend $50,000 on the ad and hope to raise an additional $50,000 to keep it on the air.
Full Script after the jump:
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – More than a million people could receive an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits under a bill approved by the House on Tuesday.
The bill extends benefits for those living in states with jobless rates higher than 8.5%. Some 27 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, fall into this category. The national unemployment rate hit 9.7% in August, the highest in 26 years.
The legislation now moves to the Senate. While there is support for the measure on both sides of the aisle, senators may make significant changes to it. Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., is seeking to expand the bill to give additional weeks of benefits to people in all states, not just high unemployment ones, an aide said.
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, want to look at other funding approaches, said a spokesman for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said Tuesday he will focus on health care costs as he offers changes to the compromise health care proposal he unveiled last week.
He made his comments as the committee met to begin considering his plan.
"My colleagues, this is our opportunity to make history. Our actions here this week will determine whether we are courageous and skillful enough to seize the opportunity to change things ... for the better," he said.
"No one should die because they cannot afford health care. This bill would fix that.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – In effort to show fellow Democrats he hears their deep concerns about his health care plan, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus plans to make changes to his own proposal even before the committee starts voting Tuesday on hundreds of proposed amendments to the $774 billion dollar plan.
The biggest concern he will begin to address: affordability.
Two Democratic sources close to Baucus tell CNN he plans to use the $28 billion surplus in the plan cited by the Congressional Budget Office to help Americans pay for health insurance that would be mandatory under his proposal.
The Baucus sources say he will discuss this in a Monday evening meeting with committee Democrats.
Late last Friday, 564 amendments were filed to make changes to Baucus' proposal, including a significant number from Democrats looking for ways to make health coverage more affordable.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senator Max Baucus stood alone on Wednesday when he introduced his summary for a health care reform bill. But one day later, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is getting some support from the center.
Four centrist senators Thursday issued a statement praising the Montana senator's efforts to produce a reform bill that may be able to attrack bipartisan support, even though the lawmakers say they have disagreements with aspects of his proposals.
But the senators, Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Democrats Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine, vowed to "put aside partisan views" and work to pass a health care bill.
"We commend Chairman Baucus for his efforts to forge a health care reform proposal that has the potential to gain broad bipartisan support. We are encouraged by his commitment to work with both Democrats and Republicans in the Finance Committee, and believe there is a responsibility for both sides of the aisle to work together to develop a bill that will earn strong support from the full Senate," said the senators in a joint statement Thursday.
–CNN Congressional Producer Ted Barrett contributed to this story
The main points include:
· $856 billion over 10 years and mandatory insurance coverage for every American by 2013.
· Baucus claims the bill would not add to the federal deficit.
· The plan is financed by more than $500 billion in various spending reductions, including Medicare, while calling for almost $350 billion in new taxes and fees.
· Insurers would be hit with $6 billion in new fees, with another $4 billion coming from the medical device manufacturing sector.
· Smaller sums would come from drug makers and clinical laboratories.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The leader of a massive push for the inclusion of a public option in health care reform legislation told CNN Wednesday that the group will begin running an ad in Montana in the coming weeks targeting the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus.
The spots, likely backed by a six-figure buy, will pressure the Montana senator to support the public option, and highlight his campaign contributions from the insurance industry.
Baucus does not support a public option, and on Wednesday said that he would be introducing legislation without the provision in his committee, and moving forward with or without Republican support for the health care bill.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has already released spots targeting Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who have both been considered possible swing votes on a final bill.
The group, which staged a protest of former Obama volunteers outside the White House earlier this week, has drawn attention for its online petition pushing President Obama to stand firmly behind a public option.
The petition had drawn 80,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning, including those of 400 former Obama campaign staffers, 25,000 former Obama volunteers and 45,000 Obama campaign donors, according to Adam Green, PCCC's co-founder. The organization has seen its membership grow by almost 15 percent in the past week, he said, to over 160,000.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A Democratic Senate chairman at the heart of Capitol Hill's delicate health-care negotiations announced Wednesday that he intends to unveil a long-awaited compromise reform bill from his committee next week.
Sen. Max Baucus of Montana , head of the Senate Finance Committee, also told reporters that he is prepared to move forward in the legislative process with or without Republican support.
"The time has come for action and we will act," Baucus told reporters.
"We have a path for moving forward. This is our moment."
The Finance Committee's "Gang of Six," a group of three Democratic and three Republican senators, has been working for months to craft bipartisan health-care legislation.
What's next in the health care fight? CNN Radio takes a look ahead