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On Cantor's Last Day As House Majority Leader, Debate Surrounds His Legacy

On his last day as House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor chose to focus on the House's bipartisan achievements.
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On his last day as House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor chose to focus on the House's bipartisan achievements.

Today was Virginia Republican Eric Cantor’s last day as Majority Leader, and his legacy is already being debated.

Cantor began his time as leader by bucking the old guard and forging alliances with the tea party wing of the party. But he threw that strategy by the wayside and started siding with Speaker John Boehner over the more conservative wing of the party. His tenure was marked with partisanship, which even led to an embarrassing and costly government shutdown.

But in his last address to colleagues as Majority Leader, Cantor told his colleagues to remember the bipartisan accomplishments of helping shepherd dozens of bills through the chamber — only to have them sit untouched in the Senate. "This Congress — we have found ways to agree on much more than was ever reported, with many bills passing this House in a bipartisan way," he said.

But as his replacement scrambles to find votes to address the border crisis, Democrats are noting that other bipartisan bills are sitting untouched in the House, like efforts to extend long-term unemployment benefits and to extend a series of tax breaks.

Northern Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly says Cantor and Republican leaders have a shameful record. "It is a terrible abrogation of legislative responsibility," Connolly says. "And I would put the blame squarely at the majority and I do not believe that they deserve re-election.”

Cantor lost a primary challenge to professor Dave Brat and he’ll remain in office until December.

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