WASHINGTON — Eric Cantor’s move on Tuesday to a boutique investment firm in New York drove home a new political landscape emerging on Capitol Hill as the Republican leadership reshuffles in the House: Wall Street and Big Business have lost their most sympathetic ear, oil and gas industries are on the rise, and Louisiana once again has a booming voice at the table.
Congress returns next week for a mere 12 scheduled legislative days before the November midterm elections, but in that brief reappearance, the House’s new leadership team will be tested. If nothing is done, the federal government will run out of money on Oct. 1, and the federal Export-Import Bank — which underwrites American private-sector exports — will exhaust its charter.
With both issues, the departure of Mr. Cantor, the former House majority leader defeated in a June Republican primary, and the rise of Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the newest member of the Republican leadership, will be felt. Mr. Scalise, the new House majority whip, brings with him a capacity to deal with the House’s most ardent conservatives, which could help to keep the government open ahead of the elections.
But Mr. Cantor was the man who could translate the wishes of Big Business to the conservatives. Without him, the Export-Import Bank and its business supporters have lost their most persuasive advocate. Asked who in the new leadership can talk to business interests and Wall Street, Mr. Scalise said, “I have no idea.”
Mr. Cantor, once the bridge to those interests, crossed to the other side. He joined Moelis & Company, a small investment bank, as vice chairman and managing director with a pay package worth $3.4 million over the next two years.
Without him, House Republicans are left with a comparatively inexperienced leadership team. In his 24th year in Congress, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio has broad legislative experience and the skills of a political survivor. Below him, the new House majority leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy, is in his fourth term and Mr. Scalise his third.
In official rankings, Representative Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina, Mr. Scalise’s chief deputy, is the second-most senior member of leadership, just nudging out a fellow fifth-termer, the Republican Conference chairwoman, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.
Besides the speaker, no member of the House Republican leadership was in Congress for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, or the invasion of Iraq. The top six Republican leaders have served a collective 64 years in the House. The top three Democratic leaders have served 80.
“This is unique,” said Norman J. Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “You now have a sizable number in leadership who were not there when the parties routinely worked together or who have a significant understanding of operating in divided governance. The only thing they’ve seen is tribalism.”
What is more, with so little time in Washington, the new leadership team has yet to develop deep connections to the K Street lobbying world or the elders in either political party.
Mr. Scalise said his degree is in computer science, an interest he maintains, but what animates him most is the oil and gas industry that has long been central to the Louisiana economy.
“Build the Keystone pipeline, open up the outer continental shelf, bring in billions of dollars to the Treasury to help us balance the budget, look at the E.P.A. and what it’s trying to do to shut down energy production in America,” he said. “This is real stuff that’s happening in the country, and it’s not just Louisiana.”
Louisianians foresee a new moment for their state and its congressional history, from Russell and Huey Long to John Breaux and Hale Boggs. Robert L. Livingston resigned in scandal in 1998 just days before he was set to take over the House speakership. Now, as a prominent Washington lobbyist, he said he was advising Mr. Scalise on policy and leadership issues.
“He doesn’t ask for it,” Mr. Livingston said of his advice. “I volunteer it.”
Another former House member from Louisiana, Jim McCrery, was once the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee. Now, as a senior tax lobbyist in Washington, he said he had spoken with the new majority leader on a broad overhaul of the tax code.
“Louisiana over the years has managed to have a delegation that is stronger than its numbers,” Mr. McCrery said. “We’re still a long way away from being where we used to be, but it’s a good start.”
Louisiana’s gain has been New York’s loss. Representative Peter T. King, one of the last in New York’s shrinking Republican delegation, said Mr. McCarthy had been developing contacts with Wall Street and the Big Business community. But it is a measure of business’s relative lack of influence that Mr. McCarthy turned against reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank shortly after Mr. Cantor’s defeat.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and other business groups have mounted an all-out campaign to save the bank, arguing that its loans and loan guarantees to foreign customers of American exporters are vital to the country’s competitiveness in a global economy. But conservative activists have denounced the bank as corporate welfare, an argument Mr. Cantor was willing to rebut but his successor has avoided.
With Mr. Cantor gone, the coalition supporting the bank has opted for a bottom-up campaign, sending home-district manufacturers to lobby rank-and-file members and largely bypassing Republican leaders.
“We need a durable solution to this issue,” said Tony Fratto, a former Bush administration official organizing the campaign.
The new leadership team at one point turned to Mr. McHenry, the chief deputy whip, as the possible point person with Wall Street. He does serve on the House Financial Services Committee, but as the sixth man in leadership, he can wield only so much influence.
“Obviously Eric was the conduit on a number of these issues,” Mr. King said. “It’s going to be a challenge.”
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