Some GOP members tried to remove Cheney from her leadership spot in February following her vote to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
But Cheney survived that challenge, winning a 145-61 caucus vote, with the backing of McCarthy.
In contrast to that victory, when Cheney’s team announced the results after that vote, Wednesday’s voice vote Wednesday means that the proportion of support that remains for Cheney is not clear. But the tide has turned against her, and top leaders have made their allegiance to Trump clear and backed the former president’s calls for Cheney’s removal.
McCarthy, along with Minority Whip Steve Scalise, endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to replace Cheney.
Stefanik came to Congress as the then-youngest woman ever elected to the House and as a mainstream moderate Republican, but subsequently emerged as one of Trump’s most vehement defenders in the House.
She joined the 138 House Republicans who voted to object to the Electoral College counts in Pennsylvania and she spoke on the floor on the night of Jan. 6, after the rioters had left a trail of destruction and injury at the Capitol, to reiterate false claims that the election was fraudulent.
Stefanik launched her official bid for GOP Conference Chair just a few minutes after the vote on Cheney, focusing on the 2022 midterm elections, without a mention of the 2020 election.
“We know that the American people overwhelmingly reject the radical Democrats’ socialist agenda, but we need to ensure they are hearing our unified conservative vision on the issues that matter to them,” she said in a statement.
But Stefanik may not have a smooth ride into leadership, as opposition is emerging from some of her conservative colleagues.
Texas Republican Chip Roy, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, sent a letter to every GOP member arguing that Stefanik is not fit for leadership, while also saying that Cheney shouldn’t be conference chair.