The House will get a new majority leader at the stroke of midnight Friday, as Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) officially ascends to the post he won following the surprise defeat of Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
McCarthy, 49, will become Speaker John Boehner's second-in-command and, potentially, his heir apparent. He moves up from the third-ranking position of whip that he's held since 2011.
In actuality, McCarthy has been performing the duties of majority leader since shortly after his election by House Republicans on June 19.
By announcing his decision to step down early, Cantor built in a nearly six-month transition to allow for the shifting of offices and to give his leadership staff a chance to find new jobs. But after smiling stiffly through a press conference and a round of TV interviews, Cantor faded almost entirely from view. He stopped attending G.O.P. leadership meetings and press conferences, and according to Roll Call, he has missed nearly 20 percent of House floor votes since his defeat.
McCarthy has been doing "double duty" for the last five weeks, one House G.O.P. leadership aide told The Wire. In addition to assuming many of Cantor's responsibilities, he has continued to do the job of whip — rounding up votes for G.O.P. proposals.