House Republicans elected Rep. Elise Stefanik to their leadership team on Friday in attempt to close the door on Liz Cheney and her public battle with former President Donald Trump.
She won 134-46 in a secret ballot vote. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy announced her victory.
Stefanik, 36, is a vocal supporter of Trump and, in replacing Cheney with her as their GOP Conference Chair, Republicans are making it clear they stand with the former president heading into the 2022 midterm elections.
McCarthy and his team have made it clear they are looking to Trump’s ardent supporters to help them win back control of the House next year.
The GOP leader made it clear after the vote his focus will be on defeating Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden.
‘We got a lot of work to do in this conference, the policies of Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden are destroying this nation,’ McCarthy said, attacking Biden’s border policy and the rising gas prices in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline hack.
The House Republican Leadership team: Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Whip Steve Scalise and GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik
House Republicans elected Rep. Elise Stefanik to their leadership team on Friday
House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy supported Rep. Elise Stefanik and has made it clear that he thinks Trump supporters can help the Republicans win back control of the House
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming was ousted from leadership after she repeatedly called out Donald Trump for his false claim he won the presidential election
Stefanik was elected after fighting off a last-minute, long-shot challenge from Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, who challenged her conservative credentials.
Roy, in announcing his challenge to Stefanik, said she didn’t have the conservative bona fides to represent the party.
‘There’s a lot of hunger in the conference for slowing down, thinking through this doing the right thing, making sure that we’re advancing the right policies in the right message,’ he told reporters on Capitol Hill on Friday ahead of the vote.
Fellow conservative Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado formally nominated Roy for the position and touted his voting record, mentioning the progressive squad in comparison: ‘If we were picking the Republican most likely to join the squad, it would be a different story.’
Rep. Lauren Boebert seconded the nomination and complained the election process was too rushed.
When asked whether he was worried about Trump coming out against him for backing Roy rather than Stefanik, Buck told reporters on Capitol Hill: ‘I’ve been looking for an exit strategy for six and a half years, so if that’s the exit strategy, that’s okay.’
Stefanik had the support of House leadership – both House GOP Chair Kevin McCarthy and House Whip Steve Scalise backed her – along with the blessing of Donald Trump.
Trump has made it clear he’s sticking with Stefanik and her elevation to the leadership table will solidify his hold on the Republican Party.
‘Can’t imagine Republican House Members would go with Chip Roy—he has not done a great job, and will probably be successfully primaried in his own district. I support Elise, by far, over Chip!,’ Trump said in a statement on Thursday evening.
Cheney was ousted for her repeated criticism of Trump for falsely claiming he won the 2020 presidential election. She also said he should be held accountable for inciting the rioters on January 6th and was one of 10 House Republicans to vote for his impeachment.
She has vowed to fight on.
Stefanik brought in fellow New York Republican Rep. John Katko to nominate her. Katko was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump.
Rep. Ashley Hinson, a Republican of Ohio whom Stefanik helped get elected, seconded.
Rep. Darrell Issa, who said he voted for Stefanik, said she could unit the party. He dismissed concerns about her conservative credentials.
‘Those who are saying she is not conservative enough are probably saying she rounds out the leadership team completely,’ he said after the vote.
Both Roy and Stefanik spoke to House Republicans at a candidate forum on Thursday. But only about 60 lawmakers turned out to hear them, Politico reported, in a sign that most members have made up their mind on who they are voting for.
Those in the room said the two contenders had a formal but friendly back-and-forth as they made their pitch: Roy, a member of the House Freedom Caucaus, emphasizing his conservative credentials, and Stefanik touting her fundraising prowess.
Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas launched a challenge to Stefanik, questioning her conservative credentials
House aides carry the secret ballots into the Republican meeting
Donald Trump has endorsed Elise Stefanik for the leadership spot
Conservative Trump loyalists who had been eager to dump Cheney nevertheless raised concerns about Stefanik, a Republican from New York
She worked previously for the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney and has a less conservative voting record than Cheney did.
Roy, a conservative from Texas who is a former chief of staff to Republican Senator Ted Cruz, could draw support from the influential, right-wing House Freedom Caucus.
He said of Stefanik in a memo this week: ‘We must avoid putting in charge Republicans who campaign as Republicans but then vote for and advance the Democrats’ agenda once sworn in – that is, that we do not make the same mistakes we did in 2017.’
In March this year he refused to apologize for bringing up lynching during a Washington hearing on anti-Asian violence.
Roy was speaking at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on anti-Asian violence after an uptick in attacks all over the country and just two days after a gunman in Georgia killed six Asian women in at three-different massage parlors.
He said the shootings were ‘evil’ but then pivoted by saying: ‘I would also suggest that the victims of cartels moving illegal aliens deserve justice. The American citizens in south Texas, they are getting absolutely decimated by what’s happening at the southern border deserve justice.’
‘There’s an old saying in Texas about find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree. You know, we take justice very seriously. And we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys,’ he said.
‘I am predisposed and wired to take out bad guys. That’s bad guys of all colors.. we need to be mindful of that.’
Roy was lambasted for his remarks by people who said he was glorifying lynching and amplifying anti-Asian hate by using his time to speak to criticize the Chinese government.
He doubled down on his remarks in a statement, saying the outrage proved his argument that America is losing grip of its right to free speech.
Kevin McCarthy has embraced Donald Trump as Republicans seek to win back control of the House of Representatives
Some House conservatives have grumbled about Stefanik’s more moderate voting record, which included her opposition to the Republicans’ 2017 tax cut law.
At the time she said it would hurt her New York constituents who would be left paying bigger tax bills each year.
Stefanik issued a letter to colleagues where she promised to listen to their views, and met at least twice with members of the conservative Freedom Caucus.
She entered the House in 2015 at age 30, then the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
And she has already earned the endorsement of Trump after vigorously defending him during his first impeachment as well as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise.
And Republicans might be inclined to elect a woman to replace Cheney, given that the top two leadership positions are held by men and the Republican Party often has difficulties appealing to suburban women voters.
Liz Cheney on Tuesday refused to back down ahead of vote to oust her from GOP leadership, calling Donald Trump a liar ‘on a crusade to undermine our democracy’
Cheney was toppled from the Republican Conference leadership job after voting in January to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Since then, she has drawn growing discontent from Republican rank-and-file for criticizing Trump for continuing to rally his supporters by claiming that he lost the 2020 presidential race due to voter fraud.
She defiantly insisted she’ll keep trying to wrench the party away from him and his ‘destructive lies.’
‘If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person,’ she told her colleagues before the vote, according to a person who provided her remarks on condition of anonymity. ‘You have plenty of others to choose from. That will be their legacy.’
Trump’s assertion has been rejected by numerous courts and his own administration.