US House Republicans install Trump loyalist to replace Liz Cheney as number-three leader
Elise Stefanik replaces Cheney following the Wyoming representative's critiques of the former president
Republicans in the US Congress on Friday voted 134-46 to install Elise Stefanik of New York, who has lined up behind former president Donald Trump’s baseless election fraud claims, as the number-three leader in the House of Representatives.
The closed door, secret ballot vote to install Ms Stefanik as the House Republican conference chair responsible for the party's messaging came after the party removed Liz Cheney of Wyoming from the position on Wednesday.
Ms Cheney was dismissed over her criticism of Mr Trump for continuing to claim the 2020 election was fraudulent – claims that led to the failed January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill.
“My focus is on unity, because that’s what the American people and that’s what our voters deserve,” Ms Stefanik said after the vote.
She also thanked Mr Trump for his endorsement, referring to him as “a critical part of our Republican team".
Ms Stefanik has served in Congress for four terms, after flipping a Democrat-held district in 2014.
Despite her staunch support of Mr Trump and refusal to rebuff his election conspiracy theories, Ms Stefanik is more ideologically centrist than Ms Cheney – a staunch social conservative who favours robust US military intervention abroad.
Some Republicans who voted against Ms Stefanik felt that she is not conservative enough to serve as the party’s conference chair.
This has not bothered Mr Trump, who praised Ms Stefanik for her “experience flipping districts blue [Democrat] to red [Republican]” and referred to Ms Cheney as a “warmonger".
Ms Stefanik became a vociferous defender of Mr Trump during his first impeachment in 2019, when Democrats charged him with abuse of power for using US assistance to pressure Ukraine into digging up dirt on President Joe Biden’s family.
Conversely, Ms Cheney, a daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, was one of the few House Republicans to side with Democrats earlier this year by voting to impeach Mr Trump on charges of inciting the January 6 mob that attacked Capitol Hill in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results.
Updated: May 14, 2021 08:56 PM