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Boyle to succeed Yarmuth as top Democrat on Budget Committee

Pennsylvania Democrat will help develop his party's message on fiscal policies

Rep. Brendan F. Boyle, D-Pa., is seen at a committee hearing in June.
Rep. Brendan F. Boyle, D-Pa., is seen at a committee hearing in June. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

​House Democrats on Tuesday elected Pennsylvania Rep. Brendan F. Boyle to lead the caucus on the Budget Committee next Congress.

Boyle, 45, who is finishing his fourth House term, ran unopposed for Budget ranking member. He will succeed retiring House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth of Kentucky as the panel’s top Democrat. 

Under Democratic Caucus rules, the full caucus votes to directly elect its Budget panel leader instead of nominees for the position first going through the Steering and Policy Committee, as some other committee roles do.

Since Democrats will be in the minority next Congress, Boyle will have little actual influence over House budget priorities.

But he said in a statement he will work on finding common ground with Republicans on the committee to enact a budget “that is fair and equitable to all.” 

Republicans will likely produce a partisan budget blueprint, but with a slim majority they may need some help from Democrats on legislation to fund the government and lift the debt ceiling.  

Boyle’s election makes him the youngest Democrat to lead his party on Budget Committee since fellow Philadelphian William Gray III, who held the post in the 1980’s, according to his office.

Yarmuth said in a statement that Boyle “knows the budget process well and his ability to effectively communicate how the funding decisions Congress makes impact the American people will be invaluable during the critical battles ahead.”

Boyle has long pushed to end the perennial debt ceiling crisis and sponsored legislation to that effect. One Boyle bill would provide the Treasury secretary the authority to lift the debt limit, while another would provide the president authority to issue debt above the limit, which Congress could only override with a joint resolution of disapproval.

In October, as some Republicans called to use the debt ceiling deadline to negotiate spending cuts or budget process changes, Boyle led some of his Democratic colleagues in a letter asking their leadership to use the lame-duck session to “permanently undo the threat posed by the debt limit.” 

Boyle cited his efforts to stabilize the debt limit in a Nov. 10 letter announcing his bid to serve as the Budget Committee’s top Democrat. In it he promised to lead the party’s defense against Republican attacks on Social Security and Medicare.

“Specifically, they want to raise the retirement age, move towards privatization, and attempt to subject both programs to dramatic cuts every five years through the budget process,” Boyle wrote. “The Budget Committee has a unique and important role as a bulwark against these attacks and, if given the chance to lead, I stand ready for this fight.”

Boyle said he also plans to fight against Republican efforts to use high inflation as a reason to cut critical federal spending programs, which he called “their long-discredited austerity agenda.” 

House Republicans are not expected to select their Budget chairman until next week at the earliest. 

Missouri Rep. Jason Smith, the current top Republican on the Budget Committee, is running for Ways and Means chairman, but he is expected to seek the Budget gavel if he loses that race. 

Rep. Lloyd K. Smucker, R-Pa., is running for Budget chair only if Smith does not. But Republican Reps. Jodey C. Arrington of Texas and Earl L. “Buddy” Carter of Georgia are running for Budget chair regardless of how Smith fares in the Ways and Means race. 

Laura Weiss and Aidan Quigley contributed to this report.

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