Van Hollen formally seeks to retain Budget role

WASHINGTON -- Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, locked out of pursuing a higher leadership role in this Congress, formally requested another term as the top-ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee in a letter to his colleagues Tuesday.

Van Hollen, among his party's top spokesmen on fiscal issues, had been discussed as a possible candidate for a more formal leadership role. But that talk ended when longtime ally and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi decided to remain in the party's No. 1 spot.

Pelosi's move means Democratic leadership slots, which will be formally approved by the caucus on Thursday, will largely remain the same as they are now, with Southern Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer staying on as the Democratic Whip and South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn continuing as assistant leader.

Van Hollen, a former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has served on several panels focused on deficit reduction, including last year's super committee. More recently he served as a stand-in for Republican Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan to help Joe Biden prepare for last month's vice presidential debate.

"Both President Obama and Governor Romney agreed on one thing during the last election: that the public faced a clear choice on what direction the country should take in the years ahead," Van Hollen wrote in the letter Tuesday. "The debate over the best approach to jobs, our economy, and the budget was central to the election. The American people clearly chose the plan outlined by the president and our House Democratic caucus."

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