Spratt endorses Van Hollen for budget panel's ranking spot

"He has my unqualified support for ranking member, and I hope he will have yours," Spratt said in the letter. 

Van Hollen's leadership experience would give Democrats a strong presence on the budget panel that is likely to serve as at least one battleground for spending cuts and entitlement issues when Republican Paul Ryan (Wis.) takes the helm in January. 

Earlier today, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.), who is next in line to take the ranking spot, also endorsed Van Hollen to lead Democrats. 

"The budget resolution is the one opportunity we have to show support for our party’s policies across the spectrum," Spratt said. "Passing a resolution calls for a leader who has the confidence of all elements of our caucus. Chris Van Hollen enjoys such respect."