The Washington Times - December 12, 2012, 10:26AM

The ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee said Wednesday that he is growing increasingly concerned that House Speaker John A. Boehner is waiting to be re-elected to his leadership post next year before agreeing to a “fiscal cliff” deal with President Obama.

Speaking a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, said that he worries Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, fears the conservative backlash he could face in the House if he allowed a vote on a bill to extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts that could pass without the majority of Republican votes in the chamber. Mr. Boehner is expected to be re-elected to his post after the new Congress commences on Jan. 3.

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“I hope he would not avoid the tough decisions, simply to take us into January after his swearing in, though I have become increasingly worried that is exactly what was going on,” Mr. Van Hollen said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel called Mr. Van Hollen’s theory “nutty.”

“The speaker is doing everything possible to avert the fiscal cliff and protect American jobs right now,” Mr. Steel said. “The White House just refuses to get serious about solving our country’s spending problem.”

Mr. Van Hollen and Democrats have tried to ramp up the pressure on Mr. Boehner in recent weeks by calling on him to hold a vote in the House on a bill that the Senate passed over the summer that extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for individuals making less than $200,000 a year and families making less than $250,000 a year.