November 6, 2008 / 3:11 PM / 11 years ago

Top House Republican Blunt leaving leadership

Rep. Roy Blunt speaks about efforts to rally fellow Republicans to help pass a bill to provide a $700 billion bailout for the current financial and banking crisis, on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 3, 2008. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number two Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, will announce on Thursday he will not run to keep his leadership position after his party’s election losses, Republican sources said.

Roy Blunt is the second senior Republican not seeking another term in leadership after Adam Putnam of Florida said on Tuesday that he would not seek re-election to his third-ranking job of Republican conference chairman.

Blunt, of Missouri, will make his announcement at a news conference, the sources said. He will remain in Congress.

John Boehner of Ohio, the top House Republican with the job of minority leader, has announced he wants to keep his post. Republicans will gather in mid-November to pick their new leadership team.

Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, currently the chief deputy whip, is expected to seek Blunt’s leadership spot.

Party leaders shape legislative initiatives in Congress and try to help position their rank-and-file members for reelection. Since Republicans are the minority in the House and Senate, they will have significantly less influence on the legislative agenda, often acting as a brake on Democratic initiatives.

The Republican House leadership shakeup was widely anticipated, after the party lost at least 20 House seats in Tuesday’s elections.

House Republicans were deeply divided over the $700 billion economic stimulus bill that became law last month with some members blaming their leaders for a sloppy job in handling it.

In the Senate, where Republicans lost at least six seats in the 100-member chamber, the current minority leadership is expected to be re-installed next year. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell won another six-year term in the Senate after a difficult challenge.

Reporting by Thomas Ferraro and Richard Cowan, editing by Alan Elsner

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