WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Vice Chairman and Ranking Republican member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today made the following statement after President-elect Obama announced that he will nominate former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

“President-elect Obama’s nomination of former Sen. Tom Daschle to be Secretary of Health and Human Services is positive news for Indian country. As the Senator from South Dakota and Senate Democratic Leader, he championed the cause of Indian health and fought tirelessly to eliminate the funding disparities that prevent the Indian Health Service from improving the health condition of America’s first peoples. He would frequently come to the Senate floor to remind America that we spend twice as much for the health care of each federal prisoner than we do on the health care of a Native person. With Tom Daschle in the Department of Health and Human Services, I am hopeful that we will see real action to end this funding disparity and I pledge to work with Sen. Daschle toward that end.


“Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and related disorders are among Alaska’s most pressing health problems. Tom Daschle and his wife Linda have been steadfast supporters of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) in their efforts to end this 100 percent preventable birth defect.  I have worked with Tom, Linda and NOFAS since 2003 to raise awareness of the fact that FAS and related disorders can be completely eliminated if women consume no alcohol during pregnancy.   Tom will bring new energy to our efforts to prevent FAS and help those afflicted by it.


“It has become a tradition for HHS secretaries to visit Alaska Native villages each year and experience firsthand the health challenges we are up against. I will invite Sen. Daschle to continue that tradition and look forward to hosting his visits.”