Max Baucus is a former United States senator and ambassador to China, active today in business, public policy, and international affairs. In his years as an elected official and diplomat he was engaged in the most consequential issues of the past half-century, and continues to provide counsel as co-founder of the Baucus Group. He is a native of Montana – the state where he was raised in a ranching family, appeared on the ballot nine times, and never lost an election.
After earning degrees in economics and law at Stanford University, he took up the legal profession and by 1973 held his first public office, as a Montana state representative. The following year, he was elected to the first of two terms as congressman from Montana’s first district, serving in the House during the post-Watergate years of the Ford and Carter presidencies. In all, his Congressional career extended across seven presidential administrations, during which time he gained a reputation as a determined, capable legislator who worked easily with colleagues, Democratic and Republican alike.
First elected to the Senate in 1978, Baucus went on to be his state’s longest-serving senator, and a steady legislative influence in the tradition of his friend and political model, Montana’s Senator Mike Mansfield. On a broad range of policy issues both domestic and foreign, he established himself as one of the Senate’s most productive and least partisan members, building a record of accomplishment in areas from agriculture and environmental protection to public works, taxes, and trade. As a home-state newspaper put it, “those who knew him best say Baucus was a senator who worked the legislative trenches to tackle problems he saw facing Montana, rural America and the nation – regardless of the politics.”
On the Senate Agriculture Committee, he led in securing reauthorization of numerous farm bills. As a member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, he guided many highway bills and other infrastructure legislation to passage. He was Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, and was appointed to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction – or “Super Committee” – the Congressional effort to stabilize government finances in the years after the crisis of 2008.
During his fifth term, Senator Baucus rose to the chairmanship of the Committee on Finance, a position of far-reaching responsibility. During his seven-year tenure as chairman, he was the principal author and advocate for the Affordable Care Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009. He led as well in gaining approval for new free trade agreements with 11 nations.
A longtime supporter of a broader, rule-based trading system, the Senator was instrumental in opening permanent normal trade relations with China, and in promoting that country’s 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization.
With his sixth term drawing to a close, Senator Baucus announced that he would not seek re-election in 2014. That same year, President Obama nominated him to be America’s ambassador to China. Confirmed by unanimous vote of the Senate, he represented the United States in that post until January 2017.
Following his diplomatic assignment, Senator Baucus and his wife Melodee Hanes formed the Baucus Group LLC. He currently serves on the board of directors of Ingram Micro and previously served on the board of advisors to Alibaba Group, and the External Advisory Board to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. He devotes much of his time to the Max S. Baucus Institute at the University of Montana, founded to give young adults opportunities in politics, government, and overseas studies.
The Senator and Melodee Hanes have a blended family of two sons, a daughter, and two granddaughters, and make their home in Bozeman, Montana.
Melodee Hanes is an attorney with a 30-year career in public service which includes work as a prosecuting attorney in both Iowa and Montana prosecuting child abuse, sexual assault, and homicide cases. Ms. Hanes prosecuted the first child endangerment case in Polk County, Iowa and handled hundreds of child abuse and sexual assault prosecutions during her tenure. In addition, she developed and coordinated the Polk County Child Abuse Trauma Team and Child Death Review Team. In 1991, then-State Senator Elaine Szymoniak (Democrat of Iowa) appointed Ms. Hanes as chairperson of Iowa’s Special Infant Mortality Task Force, which led to the creation of the Infant Mortality Prevention Project through the state’s Department of Public Health. The project provided services and resources to the community with the objective of reducing the high rate of infant mortality in Polk County.
In 1999, Ms. Hanes was commissioned by the Iowa County Attorney’s Association to publish a handbook for prosecution of sexual assault crimes. She has additionally published in medical journals and textbooks on the subject of child abuse prosecution. Ms. Hanes taught Child Abuse Law and Forensic Medicine and Law at Drake University Law School and Rocky Mountain College. She has lectured extensively and published in these areas of expertise. She also served on the faculty of the National District Attorneys Association’s National Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina.
Ms. Hanes served as state director and counsel in the office of then U.S. Senator Max Baucus (Democrat of Montana) from 2003 to 2008.
Ms. Hanes subsequently served at the United States Department of Justice as the Acting Director of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and then as Acting Director of Communications for the Office of Justice Programs. She was first appointed to DOJ in June 2009 by President Barack Obama.
Ms. Hanes resided in Beijing, China, from 2014 to 2017, with her husband, Ambassador Max Baucus, while he served as the U.S. Ambassador to China. While in China she worked as an attorney consultant on issues of family violence and juvenile justice. Specifically, she worked with the All China Women’s Federation in a cooperative effort with the Department of State and Department of Justice to implement China’s first ever Domestic Violence law.
Currently, Ms. Hanes resides in Bozeman, Montana with her husband where they co-founded Baucus Group, LLC, a consulting firm. Additionally, Ms. Hanes serves as Co-Chair of the Baucus Institute, a public policy institute founded by her husband in 2017 at the University of Montana School of Law.
Ms. Hanes earned a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies from the University of Utah and a law degree from the Drake University Law School. She is married to Max Baucus and they have a blended family of two sons, a daughter and two adorable granddaughters.