House Majority Leader, alumnus to step down by end of July

House Majority Leader and GW alumnus Eric Cantor speaks Thursday on the importance of community service and his experiences as a student at the university during Challah for Hunger, an event hosted by GW Hillel. Fresh challah bread was on sale to benefit jewish philanthropic organizations. Michael Boosalis | Hatchet Photographer
House Majority Leader and alumnus Eric Cantor announced Wednesday that he will step down from his leadership position by the end of July. Hatchet File Photo

Alumnus and Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced Wednesday that he will step down from his post as House Majority Leader, less than 24 hours after a shocking defeat in his district’s Republican primary.

Cantor faced immediate pressure from within the Republican Party rank and file to resign following his surprise loss to underfunded tea party challenger Dave Brat. Congressmen will vote to replace him on June 19, Politico reported.

Cantor, whose resignation will be effective July 31, recounted a series of House Republicans’ accomplishments in education, technology and spending reduction at a press conference Wednesday.

“We get a lot done. And our priority is building an America that works for the middle-class families who are struggling in this country,” he said.

The alumnus endorsed Whip Kevin McCarthy to succeed him. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Tx, will also vie for the leadership post in the House GOP Conference.

Cantor said “there is more work to do” in serving the middle class and urged congressional Republicans to work together.

“While I will not be on the ballot in November, I will be a champion for conservatives across the nation who are dedicated to preserving liberty and providing opportunity,” he said. “Truly, what divides Republicans pales in comparison to what divides us as conservatives from the Left and their Democratic Party.”

Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, handily defeated Cantor despite a campaign that ran on a shoestring budget. Cantor spent more than $5 million while Brat shelled out less than $200,000, according to multiple reports in the wake of the upset.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Cantor “was out of touch with the conservative principles” in his district, a sentiment echoed by many, including Brat.

Cantor will stay on as representative to Virginia’s 7th Congressional District until his term ends in January.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.