Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) smiles after House Republicans vote for her as conference chair at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on May 14, 2021.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
House Republicans voted Friday to make Representative Elise Stefanik their conference chair, days after ousting Rep Liz Cheney from the role because of his opposition to the former president Donald trumpHis continued influence in the party and his denunciations of his “big lie” that the 2020 elections were rigged.
The Republicans gathered around 8:30 a.m. ET at the Congressional Visitors Center, the same room where they kicked Cheney out of third place by a voice vote two days earlier.
Stefanik, a fourth-term MP from New York City, gained national attention and influence within her party in 2019 when she strongly defended Trump in his first impeachment trial.
“I’m focused on unity, because that’s what the American people, and it’s what our voters, deserve,” Stefanik told reporters after the vote.
She thanked Trump, who had approved her for the role on Cheney, calling the former president “a critical part of our Republican team.”
Cheney has been exposed within her party for refusing to stop criticizing Trump for spreading baseless conspiracy theories about his electoral defeat to President Joe Biden.
While federal officials have said there is no widespread electoral fraud and that dozens of court cases by Trump allies have failed to reverse a state’s election results, Trump nonetheless has refused to give in to Biden. The former president continues to falsely claim that he won the election and that it was “stolen” from him.
Cheney directly blames Trump for the Jan.6 invasion of Capitol Hill by a crowd of Trump supporters. She was one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Trump in the House for inciting insurgency, and since that vote she has continued to argue that Trump poses a danger to the country if the Republican Party does not condemn him . Trump was acquitted in the Senate.
Trump “risks inciting further violence,” Cheney told the House on the eve of the vote to strip her of her leadership role. It “continues to undermine our democratic process, casting doubt on whether democracy really works,” she said.
Stefanik was endorsed by Trump and Republican House leaders Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, who both suggested Cheney’s goal was to undermine the GOP’s goal of reclaiming the House in 2022.
While Stefanik’s status as a favorite to replace Cheney is not in doubt, some Tories have complained that the less-experienced MP was not conservative enough for the job.
She faced a last minute challenge from Texas Rep Chip Roy, supported by Representative Ken Buck of Missouri, and has been criticized by some conservative groups.
“Elise Stefanik is NOT a good spokesperson for the Republican House Conference,” the Conservative Growth Club tweeted last week. “House Republicans should find a Tory to lead the messages and win back the House majority.”
This is the latest news. Please come back for updates.