WASHINGTON, June 19 (Xinhua) -- U.S. House Republicans elected Kevin McCarthy a new majority leader on Thursday to succeed Eric Cantor who has decided to resign his leadership post by July 31.
McCarthy, a California Republican, 49, has built a reputation as gregarious and politically savvy pol despite some failing in the more confrontational whip role. His ascension to the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives fills the void left in the Republican leadership left by Cantor's surprise primary defeat last week.
Cantor announced his decision to resign a day after he was defeated by David Brat, a little-known and underfunded rival backed by Tea Party groups, in a primary election for the country' s midterm elections with control of Congress at stake.
Lawmakers in both parties said Cantor's defeat and the prospect of a change within the Republican high command probably signal the demise of immigration legislation along the lines U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking and will also have a negative impact on the balance of his second-term agenda.
Even so, White House spokesman Josh Earnest disputed the notion that Cantor's unexpected loss crushed the prospects of House Republican leaders putting an immigration bill on the floor this year.
The impact of Cantor's surprise loss on the fate of immigration legislation in the current Congress seemed clear. Conservatives will now be emboldened in their opposition to legislation to create a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally, and party leaders who are sympathetic to such legislation will likely be less willing to try.
Also likely to fall to the wayside in the House is a Cantor- backed plan to offer a Republican alternative to Obama's Affordable Care Act. Few Republicans had rallied behind the idea and with no chance of enactment, lawmakers see little merit to the exercise.
Lawmakers said that the biggest change between Cantor and McCarthy will likely be stylistically, saying while Cantor and McCarthy have long been House allies, McCarthy would bring a more informal approach.