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Van Hollen's Congressional Role Valued By Fellow Lawmakers

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Rep. Chris Van Hollen (far right) is the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
Matt Laslo
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (far right) is the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

House Democrats have picked their leaders for the 113th Congress. After the votes were cast, the leadership team addressed reporters. There were the familiar faces of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Maryland's Steny Hoyer, the whip. Rep. Chris Van Hollen was also there, but he's technically not a party leader.

As the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, Van Hollen is somewhat of a spokesperson for the party. But Democrats, such as Maryland's Dutch Ruppersberger, say he's much more than that.

"It's not only being a spokesperson, it's his intellect, and his ability to comprehend very difficult situations and difficult subject matters," says Ruppersberger. "And his ranking member on the Budget Committee makes me feel really good about trying to resolve the issues as we go forward on this whole fiscal problem."

Speculation is brewing on Capitol Hill about Van Hollen's future whether he wants to climb that formal leadership ladder that could put him on the path to being Speaker one day. Van Hollen brushes aside the rumors though.

"I'm just focused on the job in front of us right now," he says.

That job, avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff, will consume Van Hollen for the coming weeks, and could add to his clout in Democratic circles.

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