Van Hollen Asks Colleagues to Back Bid for Top Budget Job

Posted November 9, 2010 at 5:16pm

Updated: Nov. 10, 6:50 p.m.

Outgoing Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen officially announced Wednesday he is seeking the ranking member spot on the Budget Committee.

The Maryland Democrat sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to his House colleagues asking for them to support his bid. The ranking member position will be vacant next year after the defeat of Budget Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.) in last week’s elections.

“The Budget Committee will be a central front in this national conversation about how to accelerate job creation and economic growth,” wrote Van Hollen, who is not currently a committee member. “This will not just be a fight over numbers. It is ultimately a debate about who we are and the future direction of our country.”

Van Hollen, who also serves as Assistant to the Speaker, also touted his experience as a member of the Democratic leadership and as a member of the Ways and Means Committee.

“Our Republican colleagues have made clear their plan to use the budget process to provide a $700 billion tax cut for the wealthiest Americans by adding to our national debt and slashing education and other investments that are necessary for America to compete in the global economy,” Van Hollen wrote. “We must fight these upside down priorities at every turn. At the same time, we must offer a well-defined path to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course.”

The letter comes a day after Van Hollen spent the day calling members of the Budget Committee, Democratic leaders and colleagues asking them to support him for the ranking slot.

Spratt offered his “unqualified support” for Van Hollen’s bid in a letter Wednesday, and it does not appear that the Maryland Democrat will encounter resistance from Rep. Allyson Schwartz (Pa.), the most senior Democrat on the panel after Spratt.

“Rep. Schwartz looks forward to working with Mr. Van Hollen in a leadership role on the Budget Committee as we work to turn around our economy and balance our budget,” Schwartz spokeswoman Tali Israeli said Tuesday in an e-mail.

The full Democratic Caucus would have to vote to elect Van Hollen as the panel’s ranking member.