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How Eric Cantor wants to change the House – and the Republican Party

As the No. 2 Republican in the House, majority leader Eric Cantor will have his hands full navigating fired-up freshmen members through a series of controversial votes.

Six-term Republican Eric Cantor stands in the rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building in Washington. Mr. Cantor has risen quickly through his party’s leadership ranks.

Keith Lane/Special to The Christian Science Monitor

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From his first term in the House, Rep. Eric Cantor conveyed a sense that his rise through Republican ranks was inevitable.

After securing an A-list assignment to the Ways and Means Committee, he was appointed to a seat at the leadership table as chief deputy whip.

Now, he is House majority leader, second only to Speaker John Boehner. It is his job to navigate a fired-up majority caucus through tough votes on spending, cuts to popular entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, and an increase in the national debt limit – a move that many GOP newcomers oppose. A misstep risks a government shutdown.

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"The wave election that occurred in November was the result of the public repudiating an agenda that seemed out of touch to a majority of Americans," Mr. Cantor says in an interview with the Monitor. "Now we need to translate that experience into governing as a majority."

This week could be a key test for Cantor. The diverse Republican caucus is becoming restive over the prospect that the House will vote on yet another stop-gap spending measure to keep the government running, rather than on a final budget for the last six months of this fiscal year – and it is Cantor's job to lead the majority to hold ranks for the vote this week.


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