Yarmuth Sets Sights on Succeeding Van Hollen on Budget

By Jonathan Nicholson

July 21 — Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) recently made it official: He wants to succeed Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) as the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

Yarmuth said that despite his district being in heavily Republican Kentucky, he is in touch with the instincts of the House Democratic caucus. If he is successful, Yarmuth would follow two top Democrats widely seen as relatively centrist on fiscal issues in their party, Van Hollen and former chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.).

“I'm sending letters to all the caucus members telling my plan to run for that position and making my case for it in as concise a way as possible, and I've talked with all the members of leadership about it,” Yarmuth told Bloomberg BNA July 14.

Van Hollen has sometimes been absent from his perch as House Budget's ranking Democrat in 2016, as he successfully campaigned for the Democratic nomination to succeed the retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) in the Senate. Van Hollen has been the top Democrat on the panel since 2011. Yarmuth has often stood in for Van Hollen at Budget hearings, leading questions from the Democratic side.

Yarmuth said he has been on Budget for eight years and understands its rhythms and role.

“I think I understand how important the messaging part of that job is, to draw a sharp contrast between the values as expressed in the Republican budgets and what we believe,” he said.

‘Louisville's Favorite Liberal.'

“I'm an unapologetic liberal,” he said. “I'm in the [Congressional] Progressive Caucus. When I ran for office the first time, I was identified as ‘Louisville's favorite liberal.' I've never run away from that.”

Yarmuth has long been thought of as a possible Van Hollen successor on the Budget committee (120 DER, 6/23/15). He is seen as being on good terms with party leadership, though House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was noncommittal recently when asked for her thoughts on the Budget post.

“I haven't even given that any thought whatsoever,” Pelosi said at a meeting with reporters June 22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Nicholson in Washington at jnicholson@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at hrothman@bna.com

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