Congressman Eric Cantor, a 1988 graduate of William & Mary Law School, has been unanimously elected the first majority leader from Virginia in the House of Representatives today, according to several news sources Wednesday afternoon. As House majority leader, he ranks second only to Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio, who will become speaker of the House when Congress convenes on January 5.
Cutler Professor of Law and Kelly Professor of Teaching Excellence Jayne Barnard, who taught Cantor while he was attending William & Mary Law School, said she remembers him "vividly." As a student in her Corporations class, "He was a regular and energetic contributor to class discussion," said Barnard.
Cantor, who represents Virginia's 7th district, first won election to Congress in 2000. In 2008, he was elected by his colleagues to serve as the Republican Whip; and leads the House Republican Economics Solutions Group, chairs the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, and is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
"Eric Cantor has repeatedly answered the call to public service -- as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, as a U.S. Congressman, as House Minority Whip, and now as House Majority Leader," said Davison M. Douglas, dean of William & Mary Law School. "I am proud to see a graduate of the Law School play such an important role in our nation's government."
Before going to Congress, Cantor was a lawyer in Henrico County and a real estate developer. He served nine years in the House of Delegates representing the 73rd District in parts of Henrico and Richmond.
The leadership position of House majority leader was created in 1899 by then House Speaker David B. Henderson. Today, the House majority leader is chosen by the majority party's membership prior to the launch of a new Congress. The responsibilities include the scheduling of legislation for Floor consideration and the planning of daily, weekly and annual legislative agendas.
Cantor, who is a lifelong resident of the Richmond area, also makes history as the first Jewish House majority leader. He and his wife, Diana, have three children, Evan, Jenna and Michael.