John F. Kerry, D-Mass.
Committees: Foreign Relations, chairman; Small Business and Entrepreneurship; Finance; Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Positions: Known more for his expertise on national security and foreign affairs than for his positions on budget issues, Kerry has served as a key envoy for the White House on Pakistan and Afghanistan. Recently, however, he has stridently criticized conservative House Republicans for their steadfast opposition to any revenue increases as part of a debt deal. Kerry, a five-term senator and 2004 Democratic nominee for president, has shown a willingness to work with Republicans, particularly John McCain and Richard Lugar, on foreign affairs matters. As a member of the Finance Committee, Kerry has worked on health care and trade matters.
Patty Murray, D-Wash.
Committees: Veterans’ Affairs, chairwoman; Appropriations; Budget; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Rules and Administration.
Positions: A four-term senator, Murray is the highest-ranking Senate woman, having been a member of Democratic Party leadership for four years, and is next in line for the Senate Budget Committee chairmanship. A self-professed “mom in tennis shoes,’’ Murray is known for being a tenacious campaigner - she came from behind to eke out her reelection against a GOP wave last November - and is chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is committed to keeping the Democrats in the majority after next year’s elections. She is considered one of the more liberal members of the Senate and has been dubbed the ”Queen of Pork’’ for her ability to bring money to Washington State through the much-criticized practice of earmarks. Murray is also known as a fierce advocate for women’s rights and veterans’ benefits. She has supported extending the Bush tax cuts, but not for the richest Americans.
Max Baucus, D-Mont.
Committees: Finance, chairman; Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; Environment and Public Works; Joint Committee on Taxation.
Positions: Considered one of the Democrats’ experts on the budget, Baucus has served for much of the past decade as chairman of the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes, trade, and entitlement policy. Known as a moderate who has often crossed the aisle to work with Republicans on fiscal bills, the six-term senator played a key role in the passage of the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 and Bush’s expansion of Medicare benefits to include prescription coverage. An avid athlete, he once walked the length of Montana (820 miles) and competed in ultramarathons before health problems forced him scale back his activities.