Liz Cheney faces a vote today on staying in her senior role within the Republican party, if another key GOP figure has his way.
S House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy set for a vote on removing Ms Cheney from the role of chair of the House Republican conference, saying it was clear that he and his GOP colleagues “need to make a change”.
Ms Cheney seems all but certain to be tossed from her No. 3 House GOP job after repeatedly challenging former President Donald Trump’s false assertions pinning his November re-election defeat on widespread voting fraud. She also criticised his role in inciting his supporters’ attack on the Capitol on January 6, and she was among just 10 Republicans to support the House’s vote to impeach him the following week.
Mr McCarthy has signalled his desire to remove Ms Cheney, a US Representative for Wyoming, for several weeks. His Monday note, which mentioned neither her nor Mr Trump by name, seemed designed to provide whatever cover wavering GOP lawmakers might need to vote her from her position.
“If we are to succeed in stopping the radical Democratic agenda from destroying our country, these internal conflicts need to be resolved so as to not detract from the efforts of our collective team,” Mr McCarthy wrote.
“Having heard from so many of you in recent days, it’s clear that we need to make a change. As such, you should anticipate a vote on recalling the Conference Chair this Wednesday.”
Mr Cheney’s job as chair of the House Republican conference includes formulating party messaging. Republican US Representative Elise Stefanik, an early Trump critic who has embraced him over the past two years, seems likely to replace her.
The backlash against Ms Cheney underscores the fealty to Mr Trump among Republicans, particularly in the House, despite his role in inciting the Capitol riot and his recitation of baseless claims of election cheating.
Cheney critics have argued that whatever her personal beliefs, a leader should not stray from the party line. They say her combat with Trump was complicating Republican efforts to concentrate on next year’s elections.
“Unlike the left, we embrace free thought and debate,” Mr McCarthy said as he made the case for her ouster. He said lawmakers must represent their constituents “as they see fit, but our leadership team cannot afford to be distracted” from the party’s goals.
A modest number of Republicans have spoken out in Ms Cheney’s defence. “Cancel culture is cancel culture, no matter how you look at it,” Senator Joni Ernst told reporters Monday. “And unfortunately I think there are those that are trying to silence others in the party.”
Mr Trump reiterated his support for Stefanik in a statement Monday. He cited her support from the National Rifle Association and the union representing border patrol agents, plus her efforts to help Republicans win House seats, adding, “She knows how to win, which is what we need!”