President Barack Obama on Friday announced he will name U.S. Senator Max Baucus, who has long worked on China trade and economic issues, as his next ambassador to Beijing, underscoring the importance of commercial ties with the Asian power. Baucus has taken a tough stance against some of China's trade practices but also led successful U.S. efforts in the 1990s to admit China to the World Trade Organization and to begin normal trade relations with Beijing. The Montanan had announced he would not seek reelection in November.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was hospitalized on Friday after feeling ill but appears to be doing better, his office said in a statement. Tests have been conducted and everything is normal," the Nevada Democrat's office said. "He is in the hospital today, alert, resting and feeling better," his office later posted on Twitter and Facebook. The Senate is expected to adjourn later on Friday for a recess until January. "Doctors have asked that he remain in the hospital for observation so he will not be working today," his office said in its social media posts.
President Obama and aides are clearing the decks before his annual end-of-the-year trip to Hawaii. Within 24 hours, the administration has launched a news flurry that includes: Changes in penalty assessments under the new health care; An Obama order to the Pentagon to review and report on its efforts to end sexual assaults in the military; The formal nomination of Sen. Max Baucus to be the next ambassador to China; Release of a homeland security department inspector general's report saying there is no evidence of widespread misconduct within the Secret Service.