Just weeks into his tenure as House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor has suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Tea Party.
The House voted 277-148 to keep the three provisions of the USA Patriot Act on the books until Dec. 8. But Republicans brought up the bill under a special expedited procedure requiring a two-thirds majority, and the vote was seven short of reaching that level.This vote would never have been called if Cantor and the rest of the Republican leadership thought they wouldn't win, but the vote showed that on key issues Cantor lacks control over his caucus. The Tea Party sent Eric Cantor a message tonight.
The Republicans, who took over the House last month, lost 26 of their own members, adding to the 122 Democrats who voted against it. Supporters say the three measures are vital to preventing another terrorist attack, but critics say they infringe on civil liberties. They appealed to the antipathy that newer and more conservative Republicans hold for big government invasions of individual privacy.