GOP Colleagues Say Goodbye to Eric Cantor as Majority Leader

The closed-door meeting featured a highlight film and a standing ovation for Cantor.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) makes remarks during a news briefing at the U.S. Captiol March 25, 2010 in Washington, DC. Cantor said that leaders from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have turned threats against Democrats who voted for the health care reform package into a political issue.
National Journal
Billy House
July 29, 2014, 7:05 a.m.

Out­go­ing House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion from most of his fel­low Re­pub­lic­ans on Tues­day at a closed-door meet­ing, where a high­light film was played to mark some of his most mem­or­able mo­ments.

“Thank you,” said Speak­er John Boehner, in an emo­tion­al send-off to his top lieu­ten­ant, who of­fi­cially steps down from his top-level post at mid­night Thursday to make way for Rep. Kev­in Mc­Carthy as the new ma­jor­ity lead­er.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 5131) }}

“He was con­fid­ent, as I am, that Eric has great things left to do in the fu­ture,” said Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., of Boehner’s re­marks.

Can­tor, 51, re­spon­ded with some of his own ex­pres­sions of ap­pre­ci­ation, in­clud­ing to his staff.

Of course, Can­tor’s de­par­ture from the lead­er­ship ranks comes not by choice, but as a res­ult of his stun­ning Vir­gin­ia primary-elec­tion de­feat in June to a tea-party-backed chal­lenger. After his primary loss, he an­nounced he would be step­ping down as ma­jor­ity lead­er — and set Ju­ly 31 as the date.

He says he plans to stick around as a mem­ber un­til the end of this year.

As ma­jor­ity lead­er since 2011, Can­tor has been in charge of set­ting the House floor-vote agenda, something that some­times caused ten­sion with con­ser­vat­ives and oth­ers.

His term as Boehner’s No. 2 also has been marked — par­tic­u­larly in the ini­tial years — with spec­u­la­tion or per­cep­tions that he was ruth­lessly purs­ing the speak­er’s post.

But on Tues­day, little of that seemed im­port­ant.

The closed-door ses­sion with col­leagues likely rep­res­en­ted his last GOP Con­fer­ence meet­ing as ma­jor­ity lead­er, with the House set to break later this week for its re­cess over Au­gust and early Septem­ber.

What was in the high­light film?

“Oh, it was just a re­cog­ni­tion of Eric’s lead­er­ship, and really cel­eb­rat­ing what his lead­er­ship has done for us,” Thompson said. He said it ex­ten­ded from the day Can­tor’s name was put on the House floor, ori­gin­ally, as the ma­jor­ity lead­er, to high­lights from some of his speeches.

Ap­par­ently, not every­one was watch­ing in­tently, though.

“I don’t mean to be ugly. I just didn’t watch it that close,” said Rep. Wal­ter Jones, R-N.C., one of the Re­pub­lic­ans who fre­quently differed with Can­tor on le­gis­la­tion.

The high­light video was put to­geth­er by staffers of the House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence. A spokes­man said con­fer­ence chair Cathy Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers “wanted to do a trib­ute high­light­ing all of his work as ma­jor­ity lead­er.”

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