Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) smiles after the House Republicans elected her to chair the conference on May 14, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.
Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
House Republicans voted Friday to make Rep. Elise Stefanik their conference chair, days after they called Rep. Liz Cheney for her opposition to former President Donald Trump’s continued influence on the party and her condemnation of his “big lie”, that the 2020 election had been rigged.
The Republicans met at around 8:30 a.m. ET at the Congress Visitor Center, the same room where they voted Cheney off the No. 3 position two days earlier.
The vote for Stefanik was carried out by secret ballot. The final balance was 134-46.
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Stefanik, a fourth-term New York State Congresswoman, gained national attention and clout in her party in 2019 when she forcibly defended Trump during his first impeachment trial.
“My focus is on unity because the American people and our voters deserve it,” Stefanik told reporters after the vote.
She thanked Trump for approving her role over Cheney and called the former president “a critical part of our Republican team.”
Cheney was denounced within her party for refusing to blow up Trump for spreading unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about his loss of election to President Joe Biden.
While federal officials said there was no widespread electoral fraud and dozens of lawsuits by Trump’s allies did not reverse a state’s election results, Trump has nonetheless refused to concede Biden. The former president continues to falsely claim that he won the election and that it was “stolen” from him.
Cheney blames Trump directly for invading a group of his supporters on January 6th in the Capitol. She was one of only 10 Republicans to vote for inciting an uprising against Trump in the House, and since that vote she has continued to argue that if the Republican Party fails to condemn Trump, Trump is a threat to the country. Trump was acquitted in the Senate.
Trump “risks further violence,” said Cheney on the eve of the vote on the House floor to remove her leadership role. He “continues to undermine our democratic process and sow doubts as to whether democracy works at all,” she said.
Stefanik was endorsed by Trump and House Republican leaders Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, both of whom pointed out that Cheney’s focus undermined the GOP’s goal of reclaiming the House in 2022.
While Stefan’s status as the front runner on Cheney’s job has never been questioned, some conservatives have complained that the less experienced congresswoman was not conservative enough for the job.
She faced a last-minute challenge from Texas MP Chip Roy, supported by MP Ken Buck, of Missouri, and has been criticized by some conservative groups.
“Elise Stefanik is NOT a good spokesperson for the House Republican Conference,” the conservative Club for Growth tweeted last week. “The Republicans in the House should find a Conservative to run the news and win back the majority of the House.