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13th May 2022

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US Rep. Liz Cheney, seen here in 2018, is the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress. But she might soon be ousted as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.

(CNN) —  

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is telling his Republican House colleagues to “anticipate” a vote on Wednesday regarding the current state of the House GOP Conference Chair position, which is expected to end with Liz Cheney being removed from her leadership role over her opposition to former President Donald Trump.

It’s the latest step toward what is increasingly seen as Cheney’s inevitable replacement with Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who has a more moderate voting record than Cheney but has been a full-throated supporter of Trump. Cheney has rankled many of her fellow colleagues by refusing to back down over her condemnation of Trump’s falsehoods about the 2020 election and specifically his role in inciting the Capitol riot, and the controversy has starkly illustrated the former president’s continued grip over the party.

In his letter, which was first reported by Punchbowl News and obtained by CNN, McCarthy does not mention Cheney by name but said that he and the leadership team should “exist to serve you, not the other way around.” He goes on to say that he wants the “driving focus” of the House GOP to be to win the majority in 2022.

A vote on conference chair is necessary, McCarthy writes, because the controversy over Cheney is distracting from the main goals of winning back the majority.

“If we are to succeed in stopping the radical Democrat agenda from destroying our country, these internal conflicts need to be resolved so as to not detract from the efforts of our collective team. Having heard from so many of you in recent days it’s clear we need to make a change. As such, you should anticipate a vote on recalling the Conference Chair this Wednesday,” McCarthy writes.

McCarthy then tells his fellow members that his goal is to allow the free flow of ideas within the party, but makes it clear the job of leadership is be focused on the goals of the entire caucus, not just one member.

“We are a big tent party,” McCarthy writes. “We represent Americans of all backgrounds and continue to grow our movement by the day. And unlike the left, we embrace free thought and debate. All members are elected to represent their constituents as they see fit, but out leadership team cannot afford to be distracted by the important work we were elected to do and the shared goals we hope to achieve.”

McCarthy confirmed on Sunday that he backs Stefanik for the role.

There’s a possibility that Cheney, in her capacity as House conference chairwoman, could end up calling the vote that will lead to her ouster. But plans remain fluid and the exact procedure could change, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

US Rep. Liz Cheney, seen here in 2018, is the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress. But she might soon be ousted as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.

A young Cheney, right, is seen with her father, Dick; her mother, Lynne; and her sister, Mary, in 1978. Dick Cheney, who was then a US congressman from Wyoming, later became vice president of the United States.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

A young Cheney, right, is seen with her father, Dick; her mother, Lynne; and her sister, Mary, in 1978. Dick Cheney, who was then a US congressman from Wyoming, later became vice president of the United States.

From left, Lynne, Dick, Liz and Mary Cheney run in the yard of their family home in McLean, Virginia, in 1980.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Diana Walker/Getty Images

From left, Lynne, Dick, Liz and Mary Cheney run in the yard of their family home in McLean, Virginia, in 1980.

Dick Cheney fishes with Mary, center, and Liz in August 2000.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

Dick Cheney fishes with Mary, center, and Liz in August 2000.

Liz Cheney, right, joins her sister as they watch election results from a hotel suite in Austin, Texas, in November 2000. Their father would eventually become vice president of the United States.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

Liz Cheney, right, joins her sister as they watch election results from a hotel suite in Austin, Texas, in November 2000. Their father would eventually become vice president of the United States.

Dick Cheney talks with Liz and his wife on the morning after the election in 2000. There wasn't a clear winner yet in the presidential race.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

Dick Cheney talks with Liz and his wife on the morning after the election in 2000. There wasn’t a clear winner yet in the presidential race.

Liz Cheney holds the Bible for her father as he's sworn in as vice president in 2001.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Mark Wilson/Newsmakers/Getty Images

Liz Cheney holds the Bible for her father as he’s sworn in as vice president in 2001.

Liz Cheney, second from right, rides horses with her parents, her children and her husband in Moose, Wyoming, in August 2004. With her, from left, are her daughter Kate, her daughter Grace, her parents, her daughter  Elizabeth and her husband, Phillip Perry. Cheney married Perry, a lawyer, in 1993. They have five children in all.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

Liz Cheney, second from right, rides horses with her parents, her children and her husband in Moose, Wyoming, in August 2004. With her, from left, are her daughter Kate, her daughter Grace, her parents, her daughter Elizabeth and her husband, Phillip Perry. Cheney married Perry, a lawyer, in 1993. They have five children in all.

Cheney, left, joins her parents, her husband and her children on stage after her dad spoke at the Republican National Convention in September 2004.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Cheney, left, joins her parents, her husband and her children on stage after her dad spoke at the Republican National Convention in September 2004.

Cheney holds her 2-month-old son, Phillip, as President George W. Bush gave a speech at the Republican National Convention in 2004.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

Cheney holds her 2-month-old son, Phillip, as President George W. Bush gave a speech at the Republican National Convention in 2004.

Cheney speaks in Denver as part of a campaign event for Republican women in October 2004. Cheney left her State Department job to help her father get re-elected.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post/Getty Images

Cheney speaks in Denver as part of a campaign event for Republican women in October 2004. Cheney left her State Department job to help her father get re-elected.

Cheney and her father lay flowers at an Auschwitz memorial near Krakow, Poland, in 2005.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
David Bohrer/The White House/AP

Cheney and her father lay flowers at an Auschwitz memorial near Krakow, Poland, in 2005.

Cheney walks with her parents to Air Force Two as they prepare to leave for a 10-day trip to the Middle East in 2008.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Image

Cheney walks with her parents to Air Force Two as they prepare to leave for a 10-day trip to the Middle East in 2008.

Cheney hugs her father at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2010.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Cliff Owen/AP

Cheney hugs her father at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2010.

Cheney waits for a news conference to begin in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in July 2013. Cheney was running for the US Senate seat held by longtime incumbent Mike Enzi. She dropped out of the race in January 2014.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

Cheney waits for a news conference to begin in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in July 2013. Cheney was running for the US Senate seat held by longtime incumbent Mike Enzi. She dropped out of the race in January 2014.

Cheney talks to people at the Senior Citizens Center in Gillette, Wyoming, in February 2016. Earlier in the day, she announced that she was running for Congress.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Ed Glazar/Gillette News Record/AP

Cheney talks to people at the Senior Citizens Center in Gillette, Wyoming, in February 2016. Earlier in the day, she announced that she was running for Congress.

Cheney hugs a supporter during an election-night party in Casper, Wyoming, in November 2016. She defeated Democrat Ryan Greene to claim Wyoming's lone seat in the House.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Dan Cepeda/Casper Star-Tribune/AP

Cheney hugs a supporter during an election-night party in Casper, Wyoming, in November 2016. She defeated Democrat Ryan Greene to claim Wyoming’s lone seat in the House.

Cheney talks with members of the media as she and other freshman members of Congress checked in for orientation in November 2016.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

Cheney talks with members of the media as she and other freshman members of Congress checked in for orientation in November 2016.

Cheney takes the oath of office next to her father as the 115th Congress met for the first time in 2017.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Cheney takes the oath of office next to her father as the 115th Congress met for the first time in 2017.

Cheney speaks with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy during a news conference in Washington, DC, in October 2019. She became chairwoman of the House Republican Conference in 2019, making her the third-ranking Republican in the House, behind McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Cheney speaks with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy during a news conference in Washington, DC, in October 2019. She became chairwoman of the House Republican Conference in 2019, making her the third-ranking Republican in the House, behind McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise.

Cheney speaks during a news conference with other Republicans in October 2019. The House had just passed a resolution that formalized the procedures of an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. No Republicans supported that resolution.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Cheney speaks during a news conference with other Republicans in October 2019. The House had just passed a resolution that formalized the procedures of an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. No Republicans supported that resolution.

Trump hands a pen to Cheney after signing a coronavirus relief package in April 2020.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomber/Getty Images

Trump hands a pen to Cheney after signing a coronavirus relief package in April 2020.

Cheney pets Damon, a 2-month-old yellow lab that is training to be a guide dog, in June 2020. Damon's handler was attending a nearby event with House Democrats.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

Cheney pets Damon, a 2-month-old yellow lab that is training to be a guide dog, in June 2020. Damon’s handler was attending a nearby event with House Democrats.

Cheney heads to the House floor to cast a vote at the US Capitol in February 2021. Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Capitol insurrection.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Cheney heads to the House floor to cast a vote at the US Capitol in February 2021. Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Capitol insurrection.

Cheney speaks about the US-Mexico border policy at a news conference outside the US Capitol in March 2021. In Congress, Cheney has high ratings from conservative groups. Like her father, she is a fiscal conservative and defense hawk.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Cheney speaks about the US-Mexico border policy at a news conference outside the US Capitol in March 2021. In Congress, Cheney has high ratings from conservative groups. Like her father, she is a fiscal conservative and defense hawk.

President Joe Biden fist-bumps Cheney as he arrives to speak to a joint session of Congress in April 2021.

Photos: Embattled Congresswoman Liz Cheney

PHOTO:
Chip Somodevilla/Bloomberg/Getty Images

President Joe Biden fist-bumps Cheney as he arrives to speak to a joint session of Congress in April 2021.

Some members of the conservative faction known as the House Freedom Caucus are calling on GOP leaders to delay the vote over concerns about Stefanik’s more moderate voting record, a senior House Republican involved in the effort tells CNNN.

While the calls are unlikely to prevent Stefanik’s election as the No. 3 House Republican, the pushback underscores how leadership elections can be quite contentious and unpredictable – especially given that they are conducted by secret ballot. So far, no one has emerged to challenge Stefanik, who has methodically locked up enough commitments to assure her that she has the support to be elected into leadership.

“HFC is trying to delay the vote to replace her because they have no way to stop Elise from getting it,” the GOP source told CNN.

Stefanik has privately reached out to members of the conservative bloc, while securing the backing of top members like Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. She’s expected to meet with the bloc in person ahead of the leadership vote.

After the Wednesday vote to oust Cheney, House GOP leaders will schedule a vote on Stefanik.

Several top Senate Republicans were uneasy Monday about the House GOP’s expected purge of Cheney from their leadership ranks, calling on their party to unify amid a nasty fight exposing their party’s divisions over Trump. While a number of Senate Republicans downplayed the squabble as simply an inside-the-Beltway dispute that most voters are ignoring, others said it sends the wrong message as their party tries to take back control of Congress and focus their opposition on President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican and member of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s leadership team, said that “cancel culture is cancel culture, no matter how you look at it … we shouldn’t be trying to cancel voices.”

“I do hope we can get as unified as possible, because as long as Republicans are divided, the Democrats will take advantage of that,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said, sidestepping questions about whether House Republicans should boot Cheney from leadership.

But Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a strong Trump ally, said Monday that while there is room for members of the Republican Party to be anti-Trump, they can’t hold leadership positions.

“When you make these political decisions, you need to understand the consequences,” Graham said in regard to Cheney.

CNN’s Ted Barrett, Lauren Fox, Jamie Gangel, Morgan Rimmer, Ali Zaslav and Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.

2021-05-11 00:26:13


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