House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) shocking defeat will shake up the chamber’s leadership but is unlikely to impact how Congress approaches issues like climate change and other environmental legislation, legislators said in more than a dozen interviews with Bloomberg BNA.
Democrats said House Republicans were already so opposed to climate change and environmental measures that new leadership would not make a substantial difference.
“This is going to take the prospects for positive developments from very bad to even worse,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of House Democratic leadership, said. “It’s not as if we imagine a lot happening in those areas before [Cantor’s defeat], but what this does is it probably buries the prospects of any progress for quite a while.”
Republicans agreed that Cantor’s loss would not have an impact on environmental and energy policies, but attributed it to tight party cohesion about how to approach the issues.
“I think our whole caucus—both in the House and Senate—is pretty united on the things we have to do to get a national energy plan,” Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said. “We’ll pretty much continue on the same track.”
Cantor, long-considered a likely future Speaker of the House, lost his June 10 Republican congressional primary to political novice and largely unknown economics professor Dave Brat. The majority leader will resign his leadership post effective July 31 but intends to serve out the reminder of his term.
Cantor’s Environmental Record Lacking.
One common fear among some in the aftermath of Cantor’s defeat is that a more conservative majority leader might further congressional gridlock and prevent meaningful legislative action. But, many Democrats said those fears would not apply to environmental legislation where they described Cantor’s record as already incredibly conservative.