Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has accepted President-elect Obama's offer to be secretary of health and human services, Democratic officials said Wednesday.
The appointment wasn't announced, but the officials said the job is Daschle's, barring an unforeseen problem as Obama's team reviews the South Dakota Democrat's background. One area of review will include the lobbying connections of his wife, Linda Hall Daschle, who has lobbied mostly on behalf of airline-related companies over the years. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Daschle was a close adviser to Obama throughout the former Illinois senator's White House campaign. He recently wrote a book on his proposals to improve health care, and he is working with former Senate leaders on recommendations to improve the system.
Organizations seeking to expand health coverage were quick to praise the selection.
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“Sen. Daschle has a deep commitment to securing high-quality, affordable health care for everyone in our nation,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA. After losing re-election to the Senate in 2004, Daschle became a public policy adviser and member of the legislative and public policy group at the law and lobbying firm Alston & Bird. Daschle isn't registered as a lobbyist. He advises clients on issues including health care, financial services and taxes and trade, according to the firm Web site.
His wife was acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration during the Clinton administration. She is one of Washington's top lobbyists. Her lobbying clients over the past year included American Airlines, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, Senate lobbying records show.
Daschle is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank run by top Obama transition adviser John Podesta.