House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) is openly abandoning Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as he boosts Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) in a bid to replace her as conference chair.
A spokesperson for the No. 2 Republican, Laura Fine, issued a statement defending Scalise’s move to boot Cheney who has publicly criticized former President Donald Trump and refused to carry a party message that ignores the damaging impact of efforts by Trump allies to cling to falsehoods about a stolen election.
“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,” Fine said in the statement first reported by Punchbowl News.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has also been rallying for Stefanik to many Republicans, Punchbowl said.
The development comes after earlier reports, that Stefanik was being considered as a potential replacement for Cheney among a group of other women candidates, amid growing discontent in the chamber that Cheney has delivered a message at odds with the one put forward by an ever-more entrenched wing of Trump loyalists in the House.
Beginning with a vote to impeach Trump earlier this year, Cheney has continuously stood up to a series of false claims and conspiracy theories about a stolen election put forward by Trump and his congressional allies.
The other contenders floated as potential replacements — including Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), who is now ex[ected to back Stefanik rather than run for the post — have all been defenders of the former president.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), the Republican Study Committee chair, who was among a group of House Republicans who objected to the certification of Electoral College votes in some states on Jan. 6, and had openly criticized Cheney, isn’t running either.
Cheney has angered her colleagues by daring to address how the former President Donald Trump and his allies imperiled democracy by pushing false claims of a stolen election and incited a pro-Trump mob to stage a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol in January.
The effort to usher in a replacement has been orchestrated with quiet planning to identify a female lawmaker from outside the House Freedom Caucus to file a motion to remove her, according to Punchbowl.
If adopted, that motion would give GOP leadership the go-ahead to start the process of potentially electing a replacement which could begin as soon as next week.