After college, Daschle worked for three years as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command. He worked part-time for George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign during the time that he was stationed at Air Command headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. After discharge from the service, Daschle worked as a staff assistant to South Dakota Senator James Abourezk from 1972-1977.
In 1978, Tom Daschle ran against Republican Leo Thorsness for the seat in the House of Representatives vacated by Congressman Larry Pressler. Daschle’s door-to-door campaign resulted in a narrow win of 14 votes over Thorsness, although a recount nudged up his margin of victory to 139 votes. In November of 1980, Daschle won a resounding re-election victory with a 66%-34% margin.
South Dakota lost one of its two House seats after the 1980 census, which meant that Tom Daschle and Republican Congressman Clint Roberts would run against each other for the lone House seat in the 1982 election. Daschle won narrowly with 52 percent of the vote. He easily won a fourth term in Congress in the 1984 election.
Congressman Daschle served on the House Agriculture and Veterans Affairs Committees and the Select Committee on Hunger. He was the first South Dakotan and only freshman member to be elected to a leadership position when he was named Rocky Mountain Regional Whip in 1979. He was appointed “Whip-at-Large” in the House in March of 1982. In 1983, Daschle was elected to the House Steering and Policy Committee.
During his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Daschle was founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Alcohol Fuels Caucus, chairman of Vietnam Veterans in Congress Caucus, and a member of the Tourism and Rural Caucuses.
The U.S. House of Representatives papers is composed of some campaign files and voting record information. Also included is "The Daschle Record" which contains 12 books compiled by his staff containing Daschle's voting record, sponsorships, and summaries of committee and subcommittee records from 1979 to 1986.