It’s official. The second most powerful member of the GOP caucus in the House of Representatives is stepping down. His expected successor is Eric Cantor, who was at the forefront of Republican opposition to the bailout law. The move probably signals that John Boehner, the GOP’s number one man in the House, will remain in his position, as Cantor is a close ally.
So what does this mean for the bailout? Well, the GOP caucus is smaller but now far more conservative than it was before Tuesday. It also has far fewer ties to Wall Street. The new caucus is both ideologically more in favour of free markets and less tied socially or psychologically to the investment banking community. The Democratic hold on the House, however, is so strong that any re-emergent House Republican opposition to economic stimulus or bailout plans may be irrelevant.
Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri has decided not to run for another term as Republican whip in the House. His deputy, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, has already told his colleagues he will be a candidate for the position.
Florida Rep. Adam Putnam, the Chairman of the Republican House Conference, is also relinquishing his GOP leadership post in the next Congress.
But House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have said they are looking to hold on to those posts.
Democrats have netted a total of 17 additional seats in the House of Representatives and four new seats in the Senate. CNN has not projected a winner yet in four outstanding Senate races. Should Democrats prevail in all four of those contests, they would have the 60-seat majority that would overcome Republican attempts to filibuster in the Senate.
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