Rep. Liz Cheney survived a rank-and-file rebellion over her impeachment vote against former President Donald Trump, clinging to her leadership position in the House and reaffirming the power of establishment Republicans as they look to chart a more conventional and less radioactive course.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, meanwhile, held on to her committee assignments for at least another day.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, refused to discipline the Georgia Republican in the face of withering criticism from members of both parties over inflammatory rhetoric and screwball conspiracy theories she has espoused in the past.
The results sent mixed signals about the strength of Mr. Trump’s ongoing grip on the Republican Party months after he lost reelection and weeks after some of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a half-baked attempt to overturn the election results.
Mr. McCarthy, who has nurtured ties to Mr. Trump, sought to thread a needle in both of the showdowns.
During a more than four-hour, closed-door Republican Caucus meeting, Mr. McCarthy delivered an impassioned plea on behalf of Ms. Cheney before lawmakers voted 145-61 to keep her on as chair of the Republican Conference.
Hours earlier, Mr. McCarthy condemned Ms. Greene’s controversial past but rejected the Democratic-led push to remove Ms. Greene from the Education and Labor Committee and the Budget Committee.
“If we are now going to start judging what other members have said before they were even members of Congress, I think it is going to be a hard time for Democrats to place anybody on committee,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters.
He said the party will be unified.
Ms. Greene’s assignment to the education panel, in particular, has faced intense scrutiny in light of reports that she suggested mass shootings were false flag events, and she mocked victims of school shootings.
Seeking to avoid a vote in the House, Mr. McCarthy tried, but failed, to strike a deal with Democrats by offering to shift Ms. Greene’s committee assignments.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland said Democrats now have no choice but to plow ahead with a vote Thursday on her committee assignments.
“I spoke to Leader McCarthy this morning, and it is clear there is no alternative to holding a Floor vote on the resolution to remove Rep. Greene from her committee assignments,” Mr. Hoyer said in a statement.
Democrats have already weaponized Mr. Greene against Republicans.
“Marjorie Taylor Greene will make it much more difficult in swing and moderate districts to survive,” former Rep. Charlie Dent, Pennsylvania Republican, said on CNN. “It will be harder for Republicans to win a majority in 2022 with her around.”
Mr. Dent said Mr. McCarthy is reluctant to punish Ms. Greene because he is angling to become speaker if Republicans flip control of the chamber in coming elections.
In a statement, Mr. McCarthy said she told Ms. Greene that she must hold herself to a “higher standard than how she presented herself as a private citizen.”
“Marjorie recognized this in our conversation,” he said. “I hold her to her word, as well as her actions going forward.”
Ms. Greene reportedly apologized for past statements during the meeting and received a standing ovation from some members.
Democrats, meanwhile, say the freshman member of Congress must be punished after calling for violence against lawmakers and supporting conspiracy theories such as QAnon, calling the 9/11 attack a hoax and saying school shooting victims are crisis actors.
Rep. James McGovern, Massachusetts Democrat and chair of the House Rules Committee, said removing Ms. Greene from her committee assignment should be a no-brainer for Mr. McCarthy and his leadership team.
“She has encouraged violence against members of this institution — going so far as agreeing with a comment that advocated for putting a bullet in the head of the speaker of the House of Representatives,” Mr. McGovern said. “This is truly sick stuff.”
Mr. McGovern said, “If this is not the bottom, I don’t know what the hell is.”
Republican lawmakers, though, said it is unfair to hold Ms. Greene accountable for comments she made before taking office, but not hold Democratic members of Congress accountable for anti-Semitic comments they made while serving in the chamber.
Comparisons have been aimed at Rep. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota Democrat, who made comments critical of Israel, which forced the House to vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in 2019.
“We are trying to say what is good for the goose is good for the gander, but maybe what should happen is you let Republicans take care of our own and you Democrats take care of your own,” Rep. Andy Biggs, Arizona Republican, told Fox News.
Rep. Louie Gohmert said if Democrats remove Mr. Greene from her committee assignments, then Republicans will “absolutely 100%” do the same if they flip control of the chamber.
“They’ll start a war that they won’t like where it goes,” Mr. Gohmert told reporters.
Ms. Cheney and Ms. Greene, in many ways, epitomize the warring wings of the Republican Party.
Ms. Cheney, a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has become a top target of Trump loyalists.
Ms. Greene, a QAnon advocate and former CrossFit gym owner, is getting the cold shoulder from mainstream Republicans, particularly in the Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, has said Ms. Greene’s “looney lies” are a “cancer” on the party.
“Is she a good face for the Republican Party? She is not,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, North Dakota Republican.
Mr. Cramer said Ms. Greene’s views are “very extreme” and “so far out there that it does make me wonder how she got elected.”
The fight over the post-Trump era of the Republican Party has been picking up speed.
Ms. Cheney has had a bull’s-eye on her back since joining nine other Republicans in supporting the Democratic-led push to impeach Mr. Trump for the role he played before the Jan. 6 mayhem and violence in the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, traveled to Ms. Cheney’s home state of Wyoming last week to headline a rally and call on voters to send her packing in the 2022 election.
Donald Trump Jr. chimed in over the phone, telling the crowd that Ms. Cheney is vulnerable and to stick together in their quest to oust her.
Ms. Cheney didn’t always see eye to eye with the former president on foreign policy, but she voted in line with him nearly 93% of the time during the 116th Congress, according to a tally from FiveThirtyEight.com. It showed that Mr. Gaetz backed the president 89% of the time.
Mr. McCarthy told his Republican colleagues that “people can have differences of opinion.”
“Liz has a right to vote her conscience,” he said. “At the end of the day, we are going to be united.”
Mr. Trump’s shadow loomed large over Ms. Cheney’s future.
“I don’t think this is about Liz Cheney. She took a vote of her conscience,” Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Washington Republican, told reporters on Capitol Hill. “This is about the direction of our party and whether or not we are going to be a minority who is dedicated to just one person or we are going to be a united Republican majority.”
As the intraparty battles played out in Washington, Republican leaders outside Congress insisted there is room for both wings of the party, and their focus should be on Democrats ahead of future elections.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel cautioned Republicans against fighting among themselves.
“If we’re fighting each other every day and attacking each other and brandishing party purism, we’re not going to accomplish what we need to win back the House and take back the Senate, and that’s my priority,” Ms. McDaniel told The Associated Press.
Michael Whatley, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, said the GOP is a big tent party and must be focused on flipping control of the House and Senate in 2022 and taking back the White House in 2024.
“In the end, winning elections is what matters,” he said. “Nothing will unite conservative activists of all stripes more than fighting the Biden, Pelosi and Schumer agenda.”