Born in Aberdeen, South Dakota, Thomas A. 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.
In 1978 he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, serving eight years. He is one of the first members of Congress to serve in a Democratic leadership position in his first term of office, as a regional whip. Reapportionment cost South Dakota one of its two House seats in 1982, and Daschle became the first member of the House to represent South Dakota statewide.
In 1986 Daschle was elected to the U.S. Senate. He became a national leader on numerous public policy issues, including Native Americans, health care, alternative energy, foreign policy, agriculture, and rural America. As co-chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, he became the first South Dakotan to be elected to a leadership position in the Senate.
His Senate Democratic colleagues elected Daschle as their leader in 1994. He is one of the longest serving Senate Democratic leaders in history, and the only one to serve twice as both majority and minority leader. During his tenure as leader, Senator Daschle co-managed the second impeachment trial of a U.S. president, co-presided over the first 50-50 Senate, and led the Senate in response to the attacks of September 11 and the anthrax attack on his office one month later. With more than 25 years of service in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and ten years as Senate Democratic leader, Senator Daschle has played an historic role in the development of U.S. legislative and regulatory policy.
In 2007 he joined with former majority leaders George Mitchell, Bob Dole, and Howard Baker to create the Bipartisan Policy Center, an organization dedicated to finding common ground on pressing policy challenges of our time. He is also co-chair of the ONE Vote '08 Campaign, along with former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, to address health and poverty in the developing world in a more aggressive and successful way. He serves as a member of the Genocide Prevention Task Force formed by the United States Institute of Peace, the American Academy of Diplomacy, and the United States Holocaust Museum, to generate recommendations to enhance the government's capacity to respond to emerging threats of genocide and mass atrocities.
Senator Daschle has published articles in numerous newspapers and periodicals, and is the author of two books: Like No Other Time and Critical—What We Can Do about the Health Care Crisis. He holds a number of honorary doctorate degrees.
He is married to Linda Hall Daschle and has three children and four grandchildren.