Eric Cantor, no longer the second-ranking House Republican, said Friday he’ll leave Congress August 18.
"It has been the highest honor of my professional life to serve the people of Virginia's 7th District in Congress. That is why it is with tremendous gratitude and a heavy heart that I have decided to resign from Congress, effective Aug. 18,” he said in a statement.
“During this time of transition for me and my family, it is my foremost desire to ensure that representation is maintained for the people of the 7th District. For this reason, I have asked Gov. (Terry) McAuliffe to hold a special election on Election Day, at no additional cost to taxpayers, so my successor can be sworn in immediately in November."
Cantor was defeated by Dave Brat, a conservative professor, in a stunning Republican primary upset in June. Cantor was House Majority Leader, and a strong candidate to succeed House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Cantor also explained his decision to resign Friday in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“Our country faces many challenges. Too many Americans have lost confidence in the country’s future, and it is not hard to see why. The American Dream often seems to be in retreat at home, while American power and principles are receding abroad.
“Too many children are condemned to a bad school because of their ZIP code. Access to a quality education is the civil rights issue of our time and I will continue fighting for reforms that empower children and parents wherever they live and whatever their income. Addressing our education challenges also includes the skyrocketing cost of college. Government has been driving up that cost and public policy has to switch gears.
“I believe that we can once again have an economy that produces well-paying jobs that not only put food on the table but help put money in the bank. Reforming taxes and regulations to promote growth is one important step. But we must also keep working to bridge the widening skills gap by ensuring that workers have the opportunity to learn new skills so they can access and keep quality jobs.
“Our economic strength is intertwined with our global presence. We have been shrinking from the world in recent years, abandoning the mantle of leadership that generations of brave Americans fought to attain. The result has been growing instability, declining American influence and gathering danger. Our allies no longer trust us, and our enemies no longer fear us. The Middle East is in chaos. Terror is on the rise. Iran is marching toward full nuclear capability and Russia has invaded a sovereign nation with few consequences.
“Earlier in my lifetime our country went through a period of precipitous decline, but then recovered. I became a Republican because I heard Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, Dick Obenshain and so many others advocating the ideas that created that recovery. While these were all great men, what was truly powerful were the ideas they were advancing.
“While my days as a congressman will soon be behind me, my days of fighting for those ideas as a citizen are ahead of me. Iâ€™d like to thank the voters, my neighbors, my friends, for giving me the extraordinary opportunity to serve, and I look forward to continuing to work for an America that works and an America that leads.”