Eric Ivan Cantor (/ˈkæntər/; born June 6, 1963) is the U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 7th congressional district, serving since 2001. A member of the Republican Party, he became House Majority Leader when the 112th Congress convened on January 3, 2011. He previously served as House Minority Whip from 2009 to 2011.
His district includes most of the northern and western sections of Richmond, along with most of Richmond’s western suburbs and portions of the Shenandoah Valley. Cantor is the highest-ranking Jewish member of Congress in its history.
Early life, education and career
Cantor, the second of three children, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Mary Lee (née Hudes), a schoolteacher, and Eddie Cantor, who owned a real estate firm. His family immigrated from Eastern Europe (Russia, Romania, and Latvia) in the late 1800s and early 1900s. His father was the state treasurer for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign. Cantor was raised in Conservative Judaism. He graduated from the Collegiate School, a co-ed private school in Richmond, in 1981. He enrolled at George Washington University (GW) in 1981, and as a freshman he worked as an intern for House Republican Tom Bliley of Virginia and was Bliley’s driver in the 1982 campaign. Cantor was a member of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity while at GW and received his Bachelor of Arts in 1985. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from William & Mary Law School in 1988, and received a Master of Science in Real Estate Development from Columbia University in 1989.
Cantor worked for over a decade with his family’s business doing legal work and real estate development.
As of December 2010, Cantor is the only Jewish Republican in the United States Congress. He supports strong United States-Israel relations. He cosponsored legislation to cut off all U.S. taxpayer aid to the Palestinian Authority and another bill calling for an end to taxpayer aid to the Palestinians until they stop unauthorized excavations on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Responding to a claim by the State Department that the United States provides no direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, Cantor claimed that United States sends about US$75 million in aid annually to the Palestinian Authority, which is administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development. He opposed a Congressionally approved three-year package of US$400 million in aid for the Palestinian Authority in 2000 and has also introduced legislation to end aid to Palestinians.
In May 2008, Cantor said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a “constant sore” but rather “a constant reminder of the greatness of America”, and following Barack Obama’s election as President in November 2008, Cantor stated that a “stronger U.S.-Israel relationship” remains a top priority for him and that he would be “very outspoken” if Obama “did anything to undermine those ties.” Shortly after the 2010 midterm elections, Cantor met privately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, just before Netanyahu was to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. According to Cantor’s office, he “stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration” and “made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States.” Cantor was criticized for engaging in foreign policy; one basis for the criticism was that in 2007, after Nancy Pelosi met with the President of Syria, Cantor himself had raised the possibility “that her recent diplomatic overtures ran afoul of the Logan Act, which makes it a felony for any American ‘without authority of the United States’ to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States.”
Cantor opposes public funding of embryonic stem cell research and opposes elective abortion. He is rated 100% by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and 0% by NARAL Pro-Choice America, indicating a pro-life voting record. He is also opposed to same-sex marriage, voting to Constitutionally define marriage as between a male and a female in 2006. In November 2007 he voted against prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. He also supports making flag burning illegal. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) rated him 19% in 2006, indicating an anti-affirmative action voting record. He is opposed to gun control, voting to ban product misuse lawsuits on gun manufacturers in 2005, and he voted not to require gun registration and trigger-lock laws in the District of Columbia. He has a rating of “A” from the National Rifle Association (NRA). On Nov. 2, 2010, Cantor told Wolf Blitzer of CNN that he would try to trim the federal deficit by reducing welfare.
Economy, budgeting, and trade
Cantor is a supporter of free trade, voting to promote trade with Peru, Chile, Singapore, and Australia. He also voted for the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). He voted against raising the minimum wage to US$ 7.25 in 2007. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the largest federation of trade unions in the United States, rates Cantor 0%, indicating an anti-Union voting record.
In October 2008, Cantor advocated and voted for the TARP program which aided distressed banks.
On September 29, 2008 Cantor blamed Pelosi for what he felt was the failure of the $700 billion economic bailout bill. He noted that 94 Democrats voted against the measure, as well as 133 Republicans. Though supporting the Federal bailout of the nation’s largest private banks, he referred to Pelosi’s proposal to appoint a Car czar to run the U.S. Automobile Industry Bailout as a “bureaucratic” imposition on private business.
The following February, Cantor led Republicans in the House of Representatives in voting against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and was a prominent spokesman in voicing the many issues he and his fellow Republicans had with the legislation. Cantor voted in favor of a 90% marginal tax rate increase on taxpayer financed bonuses, despite receiving campaign contributions from TARP recipient Citigroup.
In his book Young Guns, Cantor summarized Keynesian economics with the following opinion, “The idea is that the government can be counted on to spend more wisely than the people.”
As Majority Leader, Cantor steered the STOCK Act through the House, which requires Congressmen to disclose their stock investments more regularly and in a more transparent manner. The legislation passed the House in a 417-2 bipartisan vote on February 9, 2012. It was ultimately signed by President Obama on April 4, 2012. In July 2012, CNN reported that changes made by the House version of the legislation excluded reporting requirements by spouses and dependent children. Initially, Cantor’s office insisted it did nothing to change the intent of the STOCK Act; however, when presented with new information from CNN, the Majority Leader’s office recognized that changes had unintentionally been made and offered technical corrections to fulfill the original intent of the legislation. These corrections were passed by Congress on August 3, 2012.
As Majority Leader, Cantor shepherded the JOBS Act through the House, which combined bipartisan ideas for economic growth – like crowdfunding for startups – into one piece of legislation. Ultimately, President Obama, Eric Cantor, Steve Case and other leaders joined together at the signing ceremony.
Cantor has proposed intiatives which purport to help small businesses grow, including a 20 percent tax cut for businesses that employ fewer than 500 people.
Other foreign affairs
In an article he wrote for the National Review in 2007, he condemned Nancy Pelosi’s diplomatic visit to Syria, and her subsequent meeting with President Bashar al-Assad, whom he referred to as a “dictator and terror-sponsor”; saying that if “Speaker Pelosi’s diplomatic foray into Syria weren’t so harmful to U.S. interests in the Middle East, it would have been laughable”.
Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Cantor