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Cantor's not-so-subtle warning to the tea party

In a veiled warning to tea party lawmakers Wednesday, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called on Republicans to work with Democrats and President Barack Obama before the end of the year on lingering spending issues.

Cantor, a seven-term Republican congressman from Virginia, lost his GOP primary race in June to David Brat, a tea party-affiliated economics professor. Brat ended up winning in Tuesday's midterm election, which saw Republicans widen their House majority and win control of the Senate.

Read MoreCantor to Obama:Don't 'light a fuse' under GOP

In his first television interview since leaving Capitol Hill in August, Cantor said a "small minority" should not hold Republican leaders hostage like they've done in the past, "whether it was a fiscal cliff or whether it was a shutdown or the near approach to a debt default."

The continuing spending resolution that's keeping the government running expires in December. Cantor said it's an issue that can't wait until the next Congress. "If, on the other hand, you see some folks who say, 'Wait a minute. We want to make sure we kick the can so we can deal only with Republicans' ... that gets complicated."

Read MoreObama never called after my primary loss: Cantor

Cantor is now vice chairman and managing director at boutique investment banking firm Moelis & Co.

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