Daschle’s Confirmation to HHS Moving Slowly

Posted January 30, 2009 at 5:18pm

After weeks of prep work for a confirmation hearing, the Senate Finance Committee will convene in a closed-door meeting Monday night to discuss the nomination of Tom Daschle to be secretary of Health and Human Services.

If no major issues about Daschle’s nomination come up, Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will likely announce a confirmation hearing for the nominee.

Daschle, a former Senate Majority Leader, is now employed by the lobby shop Alston & Bird. He has responded to routine queries from the Finance Committee about his tax records and potential conflicts. Republican aides aware of the vetting process claim no major flags have been raised.

Still, Daschle’s nomination has been lingering for nearly a month. He was the first of Obama’s Cabinet hopefuls to testify before a Senate panel, when he appeared before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Jan. 8. He enjoyed a chummy reception, and his nomination was considered a lock by Members of both parties.

But after the dust-up with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who Finance Committee members learned had to pay $34,000 in back taxes the night before he was scheduled to sit for his confirmation hearing, Baucus could be exercising more caution with Daschle.

Committee rules require that Members receive seven days notice before a confirmation hearing, so Daschle likely won’t appear before the panel until the week of Feb. 9.