House Majority Leader Eric Cantor informed members of his conference Wednesday afternoon that he will step down from his position effective July 31, setting up a special leadership election to replace him. That election will be held next Thursday, June 19, according to a Republican source.
Cantor lost a primary for his seat on Tuesday night. House Republicans are holding a special meeting this afternoon, which started at 4 p.m. in the basement of the Capitol. There is speculation flying around the Hill that they will also discuss a possible successor at the meeting.
A press conference is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Cantor’s exit would set off a race to replace Cantor as the number two Republican in the House. Already, Texas Reps. Jeb Hensarling and Pete Sessions have indicated that they are taking a look at the race. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is also expected to seek to move up the rung of House leadership.
McCarthy wouldn’t comment on whether he’ll seek Cantor’s job, but said: “There will be an announcement [at the 4 p.m. meeting].”
Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, says that McCarthy told him that he will definitely be running for majority leader.
The House’s No. 4 Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers said in a statement that she’s sticking with her post as conference chair, “after much encouragement from my colleagues, conversations with my family, and many prayers.”
Wednesday’s discussions come as tensions are growing on the Hill between conservatives and members of leadership. Many conservatives took last night’s race in Virginia’s seventh congressional district as a referendum, not just on Cantor, but on the House’s current leadership as a whole.
Concerns over Cantor’s continued presence in leadership as a lame duck heading into the November midterm elections could also be a factor into his possible exit.
Cantor’s technical duties as leader include scheduling what bills go to the floor, along with the key role of devising and meshing the conference’s overall political and legislative strategy. And there is no requirement for him to step down under internal House Republican rules, according to an aide familiar with the rules.
But House GOP leadership aides, speaking on the condition they not be identified, described the choice that’s to be made by Cantor on whether he would stick around as leader as this:
On one hand, the argument for Cantor stepping down ASAP is that his defeat by tea-party backed Dave Brat represents a sort of “no confidence” vote from Cantor’s own constituents in Virginia. And given that, they also question whether the conference should have a defeated “lame duck” so prominently at the helm next to Speaker John Boehner through the summer and stretch run of this year’s mid-term elections, a reminder to voters.
But an argument in favor of keeping him around as long as possible is that Boehner and the conference don’t need — in fact should avoid — a potentially tumultuous and destructive internal leadership battle at this point before the election, and that Boehner should ask Cantor to stay on as leader. There are some who see such a contest right now as potentially even an early proxy vote on Boehner himself, and his entire leadership team.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Cantor’s district. It is Virginia’s seventh.
What We're Following See More »
Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”
Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.
Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.
Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”