House Republicans stripped Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her leadership position as the chair of the House Republican Conference in a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning, a vote highlighting that former President Trump is the influential “kingmaker” in the party’s future.
The removal was made by voice vote, just only 15 minutes after the meeting started, with no tally taking place showing which GOP lawmakers voted to dump Cheney. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) offered the motion to remove Cheney, which passed via voice vote — a move that leaders said was chosen to “show unity” instead of a secret-ballot recorded vote.
Ahead of the vote, Cheney laid out her case, signaling that she doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon despite the vote and will continue aggressively to be a voice of dissent in the party in upcoming public speeches and appearances.
“If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person. You have plenty of others to choose from. That will be their legacy,” Cheney said, addressing the Republican conference in the closed-door meeting.
“Our nation needs this Republican Party as a strong party based on truth, so we can shape the future,” Cheney added. “To do that, we must be true to our principles and to the Constitution. We cannot let the former president drag us backward and make us complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy. Down that path lies our destruction, and potentially the destruction of our country.”
The remarks were booed by numerous GOP lawmakers in the room, according to a source who told The Floridian.
Trump applauded the removal of the No. 3 House Republican, dismissing Cheney as a “talking point for Democrats,” and saying she was a distraction from the ongoing crisis Biden has caused, including the border crisis and the economy.
“Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being. I watched her yesterday and realized how bad she is for the Republican Party. She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our Country. She is a talking point for Democrats, whether that means the Border, the gas lines, inflation, or destroying our economy,” Trump said in an emailed statement from his Save America Pac.
Trump added, “She is a warmonger whose family stupidly pushed us into the never-ending Middle East Disaster, draining our wealth and depleting our Great Military, the worst decision in our Country’s history. I look forward to soon watching her as a Paid Contributor on CNN or MSDNC!”
Speaking moments after the vote, Cheney vowed to “do everything” in her power to prevent Trump from returning to the White House as president.
“The nation needs a strong Republican Party. The nation needs a party that is based upon fundamental principles of conservatism, and I am committed and dedicated to ensuring that that’s how this party goes forward, and I plan to lead the fight to do that,” Cheney said in remarks to reporters. “I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”
Frequent Trump critic Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) called Cheney’s removal “sad.”
“What happened today was sad,” Kinzinger told reporters. “I stand with Liz. I’m proud of her. There’s a lot of people who are proud of her for what she’s done and a lot of people who feel threatened by her. It was a sad day.”
“Liz has committed the only sin of being consistent and telling the truth. The truth is the election was not stolen,” he said, rebutting the former president’s claims of widespread election fraud in November. “Seventy-four million voters were not disenfranchised; they were outnumbered. And it’s important our party take inventory of that and go out and win the next election instead of continuing the big lie.”
Kinzinger, on the eve of the vote, sparred with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) in a back-and-forth spat exchange on Twitter over his comments defending Cheney while slamming Republicans for believing the “big lie.”
Gaetz, who has been campaigning against Cheney to oust her from her leadership role following her vote to impeach Trump, arguing that she has been a problem for the party in their attempts to unite against President Biden’s liberal agenda ahead of the 2022 midterm.
“Rep. Cheney’s record doesn’t stand with the party. This is a party that wants to stop endless wars, wants an immigration and economic policy that supports the America First agenda,” Gaetz said in an interview with The Post Millennial following the House conference vote. “This is a party that gave President Trump over 90 percent of their vote, and she made it her personal mission to fight against him, support the left-wing media’s narratives, and spit in the eye of every Republican who voted for him and supported his agenda.”
“Our party is more united now than it has been in some time,” Gaetz added. “We have a blueprint of how to reach the largest numbers of voters in history. Supporting sensible policies on immigration, trade, big tech, woke capital, and foreign policy should be the staple of our party. In all decision-making, we should look at what’s in the best interest of the least among us. The hardworking Americans building a life for themselves and their families. We are the party of the worker, the patriot, and the silent majority who still believes that this is the last best hope.”
Cheney survived the bid from being ousted from leadership in February in a 145-to-61 vote by secret ballot. Tensions began to reigniting within the party when Cheney infuriated GOP lawmakers during the House GOP retreat in Orlando late last month by insisting on criticizing Trump instead of focusing her attacks on the Democrats and Biden.
In a letter to GOP colleagues, McCarthy said removing Cheney from the No. 3 leadership post was necessary to resolve “internal conflicts” that are distracting and dividing Republicans in their focus on winning back the majority in the 2022 midterm election.
Shortly after Cheney was removed from her position, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) formally launched her bid for conference chair to replace the Wyoming Congresswoman as the chamber’s third-ranking Republican. In a two-page letter to House Republicans, Stefanik did not mention Cheney. Instead, she railed against the media and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-NY).
“I know firsthand the discipline and message it takes to fight back against the biased national media and the entire Democrat and Far-Left infrastructure. I know what it takes to flip a district and grow the Republican Party,” Stefanik wrote. “I look forward to working with you as we share our unified conservative vision, regain the Majority, fire Speaker Pelosi once and for all, and fight on behalf of the American people to save our country.”
House Republicans will reconvene Friday, where Cheney is expected to be replaced as GOP conference chair by Stefanik. The New York Republican has gained the endorsement of Trump, McCarthy, and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise for the GOP conference chair role. However, members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus argued that Stefanik is the wrong pick, saying the New York Congresswoman lacks a conservative enough voting record to represent the House Republican Conference.
Despite conservatives’ reservations, no challenger has emerged in the race.