Van Hollen announces bid for post as budget panel's ranking member

He criticized Republican proposals on Medicare and Social Security saying they "would jeopardize the health and retirement security of America’s seniors."  

"We must fight these upside-down priorities at every turn," he said. "At the same time, we must offer a well-defined path to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course."

The outgoing chairman of the Budget Committee, Rep. John Spratt (S.C.), was defeated in his reelection bid last week.

Next in line is Rep. Allyson Schwartz (Pa.), but she has said she doesn't intend to challenge Van Hollen's bid. 

"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. 

Van Hollen announced last week that he wouldn't serve a third term as the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee after helping his party expand its majority in 2008 but watching Democrats lose more than 60 seats and the majority in last week's midterm elections.

Van Hollen isn't a member of the budget panel and currently has seats on the Ways and Means and Oversight and Government Reform committees.

"I recognize that the challenges before us are formidable," he said. "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."

Russell Berman contributed to this report.