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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Wyden In Line To Become Powerful Senate Committee Chair

U.S. Senate
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden

A second U.S. Senator from the Northwest is expected to move into one of the most powerful positions in Congress.

Washington's Patty Murray chairs the Senate budget committee. But soon, Oregon's Ron Wyden may lead the Senate panel that oversees the tax code.

Wyden is among the top ranking members of the U.S. Senate's Finance Committee. On Friday, President Obama nominated the current chair, Max Baucus of Montana, as the next ambassador to China. And while Wyden hasn't confirmed it, he's widely believed to be next in line to take the gavel in the coming year.

Baucus had been working on an overhaul of the federal tax code. Wyden is indicating he’ll continue that effort with his own proposals. The Democrat took to the Senate floor this week to call the U.S. tax code a quote "dysfunctional mess."

"It is 100 years old at this point," said Wyden. "And I think it's pretty fair to say it looks its age every year."

Wyden would be just the second ever Senate Finance Committee Chair from the Northwest. The first was Oregon Republican Bob Packwood, who briefly served in that role in both the 80s and 90s.