The stunning Republican primary defeat last week of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has triggered upheaval in congressional GOP leadership and even further reduced the odds of the House taking up any significant healthcare legislation before the November elections.
Cantor will step down as majority leader at the end of July but stay in office until the end of the year. His defeat set off a fierce scramble among Republicans seeking his post, though it appears the current House whip, Kevin McCarthy of California, has the edge. The way the power struggle plays out could affect the leadership of key healthcare committees such as Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce. “There is kind of the domino effect,” said Joseph Antos, a health policy expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
Even though Cantor took a hard line against the healthcare reform law, tea party conservatives accused him of not being sufficiently anti-Obamacare.
His victorious opponent, college professor David Brat, signed a pledge to repeal the law while Cantor had not. “The voters in Virginia were paying attention to candidates who take a stand against Obamacare,” said Heather Higgins, president of Independent Women's Voice, a group promoting the pledge. “After tonight, every Republican incumbent will be paying attention as well.”