This certainly hasn’t been a banner year for Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee whose party suffered a mid-term election shellacking that cost the Democrats more than 60 seats and control of the House.
Van Hollen announced shortly after the drubbing that he would not seek a third term as House Democratic campaign chairman. But today Van Hollen had something to cheer about, as the Maryland Democrat was unanimously elected ranking member of the House Budget Committee by the House Democratic Caucus.
“I am honored that my colleagues have elected me to serve,” said Van Hollen. “Our nation faces significant challenges, and we have an opportunity to fight for a federal budget that supports America’s values and is fiscally responsible.”
Van Hollen will become the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee in the new Congress. Rep. John M. Spratt Jr., D-S.C., the current chairman of the House Budget Committee, was one of the casualties of the Nov. 2 Republican blowout. When the Republicans take control of the House in January, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will take charge as the Budget Committee chairman, and Van Hollen will become the ranking minority party member.
Ryan is the Republicans’ budget star, and has designed a tough and controversial “Roadmap” for reducing the deficit and overhauling entitlement programs. “While we have some fundamental differences, we both agree that we must debate and tackle the real issues facing our country,” Van Hollen said.
Van Hollen added that “The Budget Committee will be a central front in this national conversation about how to accelerate job creation and economic growth. This is not just a debate about numbers. It will be a debate about protecting Social Security and strengthening Medicare so our seniors do not face undue hardship in their later years.
My colleague Elaine Povich is reporting from the Hill that Speaker-elect John Boehner, R-Ohio, was given a huge, green, sheet cake to celebrate his election as speaker of the House on his 61st birthday. "I am humbled and honored to be House Republicans' designee for Speaker of the House," Boehner said on his Twitter account.
The cake was inscripted "Happy Birthday, Mr. Speaker," with white lettering on green frosting. (The flavor of the cake was unknown.) Members of Boehner's staff wheeled the cake into the ornate Ways and Means Committee room where the leadership elections were taking place. Two large number candles, a "6" and a "1" topped the cake. As the staff waited outside the committee room door for the election to be official, each time the door opened, a breeze put out the candles. A staffer stood ready with a disposable lighter to re-light the candles each time.