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So I said a while back when I did my 2014 Senate rankings that I wouldn't be spending a lot of time writing about U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D. MT) and his upcoming re-election in 2014.  You can read about it here:


I don't think outgoing popular governor Brian Schweitzer (D) is going to challenge him for the Democratic nominee.  I'm sure there are a number of reasons why Schweitzer passed on the opportunity but his biggest reason is because he might be gearing up for a 2016 Presidential run.  Plus I know a lot of you, like myself, aren't big fans of Baucus either and a lot of you don't mind seeing him lose in 2014, which is understandable.  But on one particular issue, I have to give Baucus a lot of credit for and that's on Afghanistan:


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Montana Senator Max Baucus is pushing to end America's longest war and bring our troops home from Afghanistan.

The Democrat was successful on Thursday in amending the National Defense Authorization Act, calling on the President to accelerate the timeline to end regular combat operations, and draw down U.S. troop levels.

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"It's beyond time to bring our troops home from Afghanistan and invest in nation-building at home," Baucus said. "It's time for Afghans to take responsibility for their own country."

Baucus' amendment calls on President Obama to steadily draw down U.S. troop levels and hand over lead security responsibility to Afghanistan government by mid-summer of 2013. The amendment also clarifies that it does not limit the President's authority to track al Qaeda forces.

His amendment passed the Senate by a vote of 62-33. - 8 KPAX.com, 11/30/12

To his credit, Baucus has been leading a bipartisan call in the Senate since March to end America's longest war and he has been successful in getting 24 Senators to help amend the National Defense Authorization Act.  Here's what else Baucus' amendment states:

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Today's amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act also calls on the President to accelerate that timeline and end all regular combat operations and draw down troop levels as soon as can be accomplished in a safe and orderly manner.  The amendment also explicitly clarifies that it does not limit the President's authority to attack al Qaeda forces, to authorize our troops to defend themselves if threatened, to support the training of Afghan security forces, or to share intelligence with our allies operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Here are 15 Senators who co-sponsored Baucus' Amendment:

Jeff Merkley (D.OR)
Rand Paul (R. KY)
Mark Begich (D. AK)
Jeff Bingaman (D. NM)
Barbara Boxer (D. CA)
Sherrod Brown (D. OH)
Maria Cantwell (D. WA)
Ben Cardin (D. MD)
Kent Conrad (D. ND)
Al Franken (D. MN)
Tom Harkin (D. IA)
Patrick Leahy (D. VT)
Joe Manchin (D. WV)
Bernie Sanders (I. VT)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D. RI)

Ok, so Rand Paul is the only Republican to co-sponsor Baucus' amendment but I am impressed to see Manchin as a co-sponsor and Baucus was able to get a lot of progressive champs to co-sponsor his amendment.  I'm not surprised to see Kent Conrad as a co-sponsor, he was one of the original Democratic Senators to vote against the Iraq War but it's still nice to see his name on a good amendment.

The vote follows:

YEAs - 62

Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Brown (R-MA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Coons (D-DE)
Corker (R-TN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Lee (R-UT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lugar (R-IN)
Manchin (D-WV)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Moran (R-KS)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Paul (R-KY)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Snowe (R-ME)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Toomey (R-PA)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)

NAYs - 33

Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Portman (R-OH)
Pryor (D-AR)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rubio (R-FL)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

Not Voting - 5

DeMint (R-SC)
Heller (R-NV)
Kirk (R-IL)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Wyden (D-OR)

Since the death of Osama Bin Laden, Baucus has constantly been calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan.  Here's Baucus speaking on the Senate floor in June, 2011:

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"It's beyond time to bring our troops home from Afghanistan and invest in nation-building here at home. Our troops have done an incredible job and they continue to carry out their mission honorably every day. It's time for Afghans to take responsibility for their own country. It's time to honor our troops by bringing them home to their families and investing in America, so they have good-paying jobs to come home to," said Baucus.

Congratulations Senator Baucus on having your amendment passed.  I don't like or agree with Baucus on quite a few issues but I will give credit where credit is due.

I think Afghanistan and a few local issues like extending the wind energy production tax credit (PTC), might be what helps him secure his re-election:


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With the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy set to expire on Dec. 31, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., says he is working feverishly in lame-duck Congress to extend the tax incentive this year.

Securing a deal in the near term helps keep the wind industry afloat, Baucus tells NAW. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and a study by Navigant Consulting, more than 37,000 jobs will be lost if the PTC is allowed to expire. In fact, thousands of wind energy jobs have already been lost.

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"There is no question that uncertainty over the PTC makes it difficult for the wind industry to plan and build new projects, and that means every day we fail to act is another day American jobs are on hold," Baucus says. "That is why I am fighting so hard to make sure the PTC is extended. Plain and simple: Investing in wind power is investing in good-paying American jobs - I've seen it firsthand in Montana."

In August, the Senate Finance Committee, which Baucus chairs, passed the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012, a $205 billion tax-extenders package that includes a one-year extension of both the wind energy PTC and the investment tax credit. - North American Wind Power, 11/29/12


Baucus' approval has improved greatly since last year but he's not out of the clear just yet:


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This poll was conducted between November 2nd and November 3rd and surveyed 836 likely voters in Montana.

I don't know what Baucus' fate will be in 2014 but today, I thank him for leading the call to withdraw more troops from Afghanistan and helping amend the National Defense Authorization Act.

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