Daschle will be secretary of HHS
By MIKE ALLEN & CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN | 11/19/08 12:28 PM EST
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) will be secretary of health and human services in the Obama administration, with the delicate mission of shepherding a health care bill through Congress at a time of punishing budget constraints, two senior Democratic officials said.
Daschle was also considered for health care czar in the White House, but President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team decided he could be more effective with “Secretary” in front of his name.
“Of all the proposals that Obama wants to enact, health care requires the most input and tough negotiations,” one of the Democratic officials said. “No one knows the House and Senate like Tom Daschle.”
Daschle was also considered for White House chief of staff before that post went to Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.).
Daschle, who will be 61 next month, will focus on what the official called the “30,000-foot” part of the job, with powerful deputies handling day-to-day matters. “He’s going to do the broader perspective,” the official said.
Daschle was an early mentor of Obama's, encouraging the freshman senator to consider running for president despite the long odds. Daschle helped line up support for Obama in the Senate — and after losing his reelection fight in 2004, Daschle sent his key operatives and aides to work for Obama in his Senate office and his presidential campaign.
He is not a registed lobbyist, but he works as a "special public policy adviser" at the law firm Alston & Bird, advising clients on public policy related to financial services, health care, energy, telecommunications and taxes, according to the firm's website.
Daschle's wife, however, is one of Washington's top lobbyists. Linda Daschle, a former deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, represents airlines, airports and aviation manufacturers as a lobbyist with Baker Donelson. She recused herself from lobbying the Senate while her husband served there, and might have to wade through a similar thicket with him taking the health and human services post.
"Ms. Daschle regularly represents companies before both the executive and legislative branches," according to a bio on her firm's website.
Tom Daschle also served eight years in the House. He was Senate majority leader from 2001 to 2003, when Republicans regained the Senate majority. His official biography says: “During his tenure as Leader, Daschle co-managed only the second impeachment trial of a U.S. president, led the Senate in response to the attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the anthrax attack on his office one month later."
His biography adds: “Born in Aberdeen, South Dakota, Senator Daschle attended South Dakota State University and graduated in 1969. Following college, he served for three years as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force Strategic Command. After military service, he spent five years as an aide to South Dakota Senator James Abourezk.”