As the House prepares to head back to work on Tuesday, and with Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-WY) future as the No. 3 GOP House leader seemingly crumbling by the hour, reports indicate that deals are already being made behind the scenes.
According to Politico, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) — rumored to be at the top of the list as a possible replacement if Cheney is ousted this week in a vote — pledged that if she’s given Cheney’s leadership spot now, she’ll only hold it for one term before voluntarily quitting to pursue other congressional ambitions.
Why would she do that?
What’s known for certain — at least from information gathered from Republican sources — is that Stefanik is seeking the top spot on the coveted House Education and Labor Committee in the next Congress.
It’s also known that a number of Republican lawmakers aren’t exactly huge fans of Stefanik based on her legislative scorecard, though she’s closer to the Trump side of politics than Cheney.
Adding to that, Politico reported that there are concerns from other Republican lawmakers that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is aggressively attempting to whip up support for installing Stefanik in Cheney’s position, which apparently doesn’t sit well with some.
With all of that being said, Stefanik’s reported pledge to only serve out the one term before moving on to other posts after the 2022 midterms is likely her idea of negotiating to land a top-tier leadership spot and bolster her chances of reaching her ultimate goals, while giving those who currently oppose the idea of her taking Cheney’s spot options for the next Congress.
Though there’s definitely some level of resistance to Stefanik’s ascension within the ranks of the Republican Party, interestingly, no other GOP House members have issued a challenge to Stefanik for the job.
Cheney’s days are numbered
While Cheney has faced a similar challenge to her leadership position as recently as February, at that time, she had backing from other GOP leaders. This time is different, as both the No. 1 and No. 2 House Republicans have publicly signaled that they’re ready to push her out.
According to ABC News, McCarthy and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) made it known over the weekend that they’re ready to move on voting Cheney out of leadership — and putting Stefanik in her place.
“What we are talking about, it’s a position in leadership. We are in one of our biggest battles ever for this nation and the direction of whether this century will be ours. As conference chair, you have the most critical jobs of the messenger going forward,” McCarthy said on Fox News. Asked if he supports Stefanik, he said: “Yes, I do.”
Cheney could make her exit as soon as Wednesday, as reports from several media outlets are indicating that a vote could be called on Wednesday morning to make it official.
Given that Cheney’s likely departure from House GOP leadership is nothing more than a formality at this point, it’s clear that former President Donald Trump still wields considerable influence on the party, and will likely continue to do so leading up to the 2022 elections.