Van Hollen will lead Democrats on the Budget panel

Van Hollen's leadership experience gives 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. 

The debate is expected to center around Social Security and entitlement spending, including Medicare. 

"The incoming Republican majority has made clear that they intend to hold up tax relief for middle-class families in order to provide a $700 billion tax cut to wealthiest Americans, Van Hollen said. "An irresponsible idea that will add to our national debt and slash education and other investments necessary for America to compete in the global economy."

Van Hollen received endorsements from all 17 returning Democrats on the committee, including Rep. Allyson Schwartz (Pa.), who was next in line to take the top Democratic post.