[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/02/art.getty.max.baucus.jpg caption="Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus released his first public statement on Tom Daschle’s nomination Monday."](CNN) - Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus released his first public statement on Tom Daschle’s nomination Monday, laying out his panel’s plan to investigate questions swirling around the embattled Health and Human Services nominee.
“The ability to advance meaningful health reform is my top priority in confirming a Secretary of Health and Human Services, and I remain convinced that Senator Daschle would be an invaluable and expert partner in this effort,” said the Montana senator in a statement. “I am eager to move forward together.”
Daschle sent Baucus and ranking Republican Chuck Grassley a letter earlier Monday saying that he is “deeply embarrassed” for a series of errors which include failing to report $15,000 in charitable donations, unreported car service and more than $80,000 in unreported income from consulting. The former Senate Majority Leader recently filed amended tax returns, and paid more than $140,000 in back taxes and interest for 2005-2007.
Baucus said the Finance Committee, which is responsible for moving Daschle’s nomination to the full Senate, will release the final version of a statement on the nominee’s “vetting issues” as soon as remaining issues in the draft version are resolved. Sens. John Kerry and Patrick Leahy have spoken out on Daschle’s behalf.