Van Hollen seeking top Dem spot on Budget
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland has formally announced his candidacy for his party's top spot on the House Budget Committee.
The job would put Van Hollen in the middle of the biggest domestic debate of the next two years: how to rein in an expanding federal debt burden. It also would potentially position him to become chairman, if Democrats ever retake the House.
Though he was re-elected in last week's midterm election, the Montgomery County Democrat was one of its victims. He has just completed a four-year stint as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and was looking to move up in the House leadership.
Van Hollen, 51, is considered one of the younger, rising stars of his party in the House. He was given a job two years ago as a special assistant to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, an incentive to get him to take on the challenging task of holding the Democratic majority in 2010.
The Republican takeover and a desire by more senior Democrats to remain in power, including Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn--all in their 70s--has created a traffic jam that blocked other aspiring Democratic leaders in the House. Van Hollen's bid for the Budget committee position would not preclude him from also getting some sort of minority leadership post, though.
Democrats lost 60 seats in the 2010 election, after picking up seats during his first two years in the House campaign job. Van Hollen contends that his party's losses would have been much worse, if he and Democratic strategists hadn't moved to contain the damage.
Text of his announcement letter after the jump.
November 10, 2010
I write to ask for your support to serve as Ranking Member of the Budget Committee for the 112th Congress.
Over the next two years we will be engaged in a critical debate over how best to strengthen our economy and move our country forward for all Americans. The Budget Committee will be a central front in this national conversation about how to accelerate job creation and economic growth. 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.
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. Other Republican proposals on Medicare and Social Security would jeopardize the health and retirement security of America’s seniors. 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.
Having served as a member of the Democratic Leadership and as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I recognize that the challenges before us are formidable. Our position as a Caucus must be clear and our arguments must be sharp. Armed with the facts, we must engage the public at every step of this national debate.
I believe I can serve our Caucus effectively as we confront these challenges and ask for your support to become Ranking Member of the Budget Committee.
Chris Van Hollen
Member of Congress