- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Rep. Liz Cheney’s future in the House GOP leadership looks to be on the rocks after Republican Whip Steve Scalise publicly came out against her and endorsed a possible replacement.

A spokesperson for Mr. Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House, said the Louisiana Republican is backing Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to become the next conference chair.

“House Republicans need to be solely focused on taking back the House in 2022 and fighting against Speaker Pelosi and President Biden’s radical socialist agenda, and Elise Stefanik is strongly committed to doing that, which is why Whip Scalise has pledged to support her for Conference Chair,” Scalise spokesperson Laura Fine said in a statement.

The news, first reported by Punchbowl News, follows a hot mic moment Tuesday in which House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy vented his mounting frustration with Ms. Cheney, telling “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy that he’s “had it with her.”

It marks a dramatic turn of events from earlier this year when Mr. McCarthy vouched for Ms. Cheney after members of the House GOP tried to oust her over her vote to impeach former President Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

She was one of 10 House Republicans to support impeachment.

Mr. Trump has since slammed her on repeated occasions and vowed to back a primary challenger against her in Wyoming next year.

Ms. Cheney survived the first rebellion on a 145-61 vote.

Things are more dicey this go-round.

Mr. McCarthy said Tuesday the pushback against Ms. Cheney this time has nothing to do with her impeachment vote, and everything to do with the diminishing confidence members have in her ability to carry out the duties of her job and stay on message.

In response to Mr. McCarthy’s comments, Cheney spokesperson Jeremy Adler on Tuesday said: “This is about whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on Jan 6.”

“Liz will not do that,” Mr. Adler said. “That is the issue.”

Ms. Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has criticized Mr. Trump and his supporters for pushing the stolen election allegations. 

She has urged the GOP to turn the focus away from personality-driven politics and return it to the sort of conservative policies that could help the party win back voters after losing control of the White House and both chambers of Congress over the last four years.

She also has split with Mr. McCarthy on the scope of a proposed 9-11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot, arguing it should be narrowly focused on what led to the chaos of that day.

Mr. McCarthy wants it to be focused more broadly on political violence and to include Antifa and Black Lives Matter.

Despite her criticism of Mr. Trump, Ms. Cheney voted for his agenda 93% of the time in the 116th Congress, according to a running tally from the FiveThirtyEight website. 

Over that same period, spanning the final two years of the Trump presidency, Ms. Stefanik voted with Mr. Trump roughly 65% of the time.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer defended Ms. Cheney, saying she is being punished for telling the truth about the 2020 election and refusing to echo Mr. Trump‘s bogus stolen election lies.

“That is her problem,” Mr. Hoyer said Wednesday in a Washington Post Live event. “She told the truth and the Republicans do not like the truth. As a matter of fact, Trump rarely speaks the truth.”

Mr. Hoyer said Ms. Cheney’s position reflects what the courts and former Attorney General William P. Barr concluded: “There was no substantive evidence that there was a fraud that affected the outcome of the election.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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