Eric Cantor to Step Down Early and Thanks House Members

CantorU.S. Rep. Eric Cantor tells a Virginia newspaper he will resign his seat in the House of Representatives months earlier than expected stepping down Aug. 18 to make sure constituents have a voice during the “consequential” lame-duck session.

Cantor, a Republican, relinquished his leadership role following a devastating primary defeat in June, when Dave Brat beat him by a whopping 12 points. Brat, who teaches at Randolph-Macon College, will face another Randolph-Macon professor in the general election.

Now, two months removed from his defeat, Cantor says he supports Brat’s candidacy to represent Virginia’s 7th District. He has asked Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to arrange a special election for his successor. The Times-Dispatch explains:

By having a special election in November, the winner would take office immediately, rather than in January with the next Congress. “That way he will also have seniority, and that will help the interests of my constituents (because) he can be there in that consequential lame-duck session,” Cantor said.

On Thursday, Cantor asked to address the House floor for one minute. Cantor told the assembled House members that it has been “an honor and a privilege” to serve as majority leader, but he warned “our nation and our economy cannot meet its full potential if we in America aren’t leading abroad.” Citing the ongoing crises in the Middle East and Ukraine, Cantor said “never before have I been more worried about our prospects of peace due to our diminished engagement on the world stage.”

“Instability and terror seem to be coming from every corner of the globe,” he said. “The Middle East in chaos, Iran marching to towards a nuclear weapon, and Russia has reverted to a Cold War footing and invaded Ukraine.”

“We’ve got to make leadership abroad a priority,” he said.

Cantor also paid tribute to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who broke down and dabbed his eyes with a handkerchief during the speech. Cantor told the House that Boehner provided an “example of firm leadership” as well as “not being afraid for showing us all your kind heart and soft spot from time to time.”

Cantor also thanked Boehner for his “patience” during their regular meetings, which occurred at least once a day, every day the House has been in session for the past five years.

Cantor noted that the signing of the bipartisan Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, which diverted $126 million of federal funds to tackle childhood cancer and other pediatric diseases and disorders, as one of his proudest moments as majority leader.

After closing by thanking his colleagues for “their service, their friendship and their warmth,” Cantor received a standing ovation for several minutes from across the House chamber and received hugs from two of his closest allies, his “closest friend and confidant,” incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).

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