The U.S. Senate has unanimously endorsed President Barack Obama's nominee, Senator Max Baucus, as the next ambassador to China.
Baucus, a moderate Democrat, replaces Gary Locke, who is stepping down from the Beijing post to return to his family in Washington state.
The 72-year-old Baucus is the outgoing chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, which oversees trade and tax policy. He already had announced plans not to seek reelection in 2015 when Obama nominated him for the high-profile diplomatic post in December.
As head of the Finance Committee, Baucus was a key architect of the president's signature health care law, known as Obamacare. He also was one of the first Obama loyalists to later warn that the implementation of that law would be fraught with administrative challenges.