Former senator Tom Daschle has withdrawn his nomination for Health and Human Services Secretary, after it was revealed he failed to pay over $100,000 in taxes. In a statement, Daschle vowed that he “will not be a distraction” from the fight for health care reform.
Just yesterday, Obama said he “absolutely” still supported Daschle’s nomination. Earlier today, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) called on Obama to withdraw Daschle’s nomination, becoming the first Republican to do so. Also, freshman Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) said he worried that “those of us in government should set a good example and I’m not sure that this is setting a good example.”
Daschle’s full statement below:
I have just informed the president that I am withdrawing my name from consideration for secretary of health and human services.
To be chosen by President Obama to run the Department of Health and Human Services and to lead the reform of America’s health care system is one of the signal honors of an improbable career.
But if 30 years of exposure to the challenges inherent in our system has taught me anything, it has taught me that this work will require a leader who can operate with the full faith of Congress and the American people, and without distraction.
Right now, I am not that leader, and will not be a distraction. The focus of Congress should be on the urgent business of moving the president’s economic agenda forward, including affordable health care for every American.
We need the best care in America to be av ailable to all Americans. We need this effort to succeed. Lives and livelihoods are at stake.
I will not be the architect of America’s health system reform, but I remain one of its most fervent supports. Thank you.
MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports that Daschle was “tearful and overwrought” when she spoke to him today.
,The Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky asks: “Will Daschle Hold On To His White House Position?“
,During the White House press briefing this afternoon, Robert Gibbs said Daschle had also withdrawn from the White House position, where he was slated to direct the Office of Health Reform.