Cheney wins House GOP leadership challenge
February 4, 2021
CASPER — Rep. Liz Cheney survived an internal challenge to remove her from House leadership on Wednesday night, staving off an attempt by Trump loyalists to punish her for supporting impeachment.
The final vote to keep the Wyoming congresswoman in her position as Republican Conference chair was 145-61, The Associated Press reported, showing the strength of the third-ranking Republican’s support in Washington after weeks of speculation the conference would oust her over her vote to impeach President Donald Trump last month.
Cheney told reporters afterward the vote was “terrific.”
According to numerous media sources, Cheney refused to back down or apologize during the meeting, defending her vote to impeach Trump and her statements on and after the Jan. 6 riots placing the blame for the storming of the Capitol on Trump and his rhetoric.
“This will be his legacy,” she said at the time.
Those statements subsequently kicked off a revolt against her. Since her vote to impeach Trump on Jan. 13, calls to oust Cheney from her position in leadership have been escalating among members of her party and Trump loyalists and amplified through conservative media.
Cheney critics like Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, and Cheney’s first primary opponent, Wyoming state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, have sought to exploit right-wing outrage over Cheney’s impeachment vote to position themselves on a pro-Trump, populist message in the lead-up to the 2022 midterms, with Gaetz going as far as flying out to Cheyenne last week to generate buzz for a potential primary challenge in 2022. Gaetz had also claimed on Twitter that he had the votes to oust Cheney from leadership.
Meanwhile, Cheney has been censured by at least a dozen county-level Republican committees across Wyoming for her vote, while the Wyoming Republican Party is expected to vote on censuring Cheney at its meeting in Rawlins this weekend.
But Cheney’s vote — and the backlash it generated — has also come to symbolize one side of an increasingly conflicted Republican Party torn between its allegiance to Trump and the party’s long-term viability after the GOP lost the House, Senate and White House.
The same day Cheney’s future was being discussed behind closed doors in Washington, fellow members of the Republican conference advanced a floor resolution to strip another one of their members — pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia — of her committee assignments after videos and social media posts emerged of her harassing a survivor of a school shooting, trafficking in anti-Semitic conspiracies and liking Facebook posts that advocated violence against Democratic lawmakers.
Notably, this closely mirrored a 2019 effort by Cheney to strip Rep. Steve King of his committee assignments after a number of the Iowa Republican’s racist comments emerged in the press, earning a swift, bipartisan rebuke from both parties in the House.
Times have changed, however: While members of Republican leadership — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — have previously condemned Taylor-Greene — opinions on Greene remain mixed within the GOP, including in Wyoming. While Sen. John Barrasso has previously lent his support for Cheney, his freshman counterpart, Sen. Cynthia Lummis, has not, telling CNN on Wednesday, “The House should do what the House chooses to do.”
Nationally, a similar difference in opinion exists as well: According to a YouGov/Economist Poll released Wednesday, Cheney’s favorability in the Republican Party is actually five points less than Greene’s at 19% with significantly higher unfavorable ratings, though the freshman Georgia congresswoman’s name recognition is significantly lower than Cheney’s.
Bouchard has even mention Greene in his public statements in an effort to differentiate himself from Cheney, saying it was time that Republicans “stopped being nice guys and started fighting back.”
“Deep State Trump-haters are attacking Marjorie Taylor Greene for social media posts and ‘likes’ made before she was even a candidate, while at the same time saying Ms. Cheney should not pay a price for her traitorous impeachment vote cast while she was in office,” Bouchard said in a statement to his campaign page on Wednesday. “That’s ridiculous and exactly why people are fed up with the attacks on Congresswoman Greene.”