On Tuesday June 10 Eric Cantor, Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, lost his primary to Tea Party candidate, David Brat in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. Since the House Majority Leader and Minority Leader were created in 1899 during the 56th Congress, no Majority Leader has lost a primary election.
House leadership positions are voted in by rank-and-file party members in the House and they facilitate party coordination in scheduling and passing legislation. Additionally, they act as representatives of party message during floor proceedings and oversee committee Chairmen/women in the House.
Following his primary loss, Representative Cantor decided to step down as Majority Leader effective July 31, 2014. Thus far Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Majority Whip of the House and close friend and ally of both Representative Cantor and the office of Majority Leader is seen as the likely next Majority Leader. This shuffle creates the potential for an opening for the position of Majority Whip. A recent National Journal article indicates that Representatives Roskam (IL), Scalise (LA), and Stutzman (IN) will be seeking the Whip’s position. These internal races will be taking place with the backdrop of the midterm elections in all 535 House Members’ districts taking place in November.
Additionally, these internal elections create the possibility for delayed floor action on important legislation including appropriations which could result in passage of a short-term CR or a large omnibus appropriations package.