Liz Cheney’s Days in the GOP Leadership Appear Numbered
Liz Cheney’s Days in the GOP Leadership Appear Numbered
It’s all but decided that Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) will lose her position as the No. 3 leadership spot and highest-ranking Republican female in the House next week, as the caucus readies to remove her as GOP conference chair. We talked about this probable outcome at length in Tuesday’s email, but the story has only gained fuel throughout the week with an op-ed published by Cheney in The Washington Post, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) caught criticizing Cheney on a hot mic, and passionate public arguments on both sides of her removal.
Cheney already faced one challenge to her leadership spot this year after she voted in January, along with nine other House Republicans, to support then-President Donald Trump’s second impeachment, which found him complicit in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Cheney easily survived a secret-ballot vote 145-61 of the House GOP conference in February — an overwhelming vote of confidence at the time.
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But back then she notably had the support of McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), whereas now that support has mostly dried up as Cheney continues to beat the Trump drum at every opportunity. Which is absolutely her right as a rank-in-file member of the House, others in leadership say, but in her position she should stop what they see as sowing division within the party. This time around, Cheney’s colleagues are noticing that she isn’t doing much to make her case personally of whip votes in her favor. The writing is on the wall, if you will. Learn more about the 2022 Senate Midterms odds.
There are two competing philosophies here that reflect bigger debates happening within the Republican Party. One is to find the path of least resistance for midterm election victories and hopefully regaining control of at least one chamber of Congress. The other is a desire to hold the former president accountable for his continued claims that the 2020 election was stolen and the destruction those claims continue to cause. Cheney seems to have chosen the latter, and her colleagues may have had enough.
The vote on Cheney’s removal, and who will take her place, is scheduled to take place next Wednesday, May 12. McCarthy has reportedly been whipping votes hard for Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who Trump has supported publicly for the position, but she’s not without controversy. The conservative Republican House Freedom Caucus really doesn’t want to go against Trump on this one, but they aren’t happy with someone with Stefanik’s voting record being in such a high leadership position in the party. The conservative Club for Growth came out publicly with a statement on Twitter calling her a “liberal.” Stefanik is a former moderate who veered hard right during Trump’s tenure to become one of his most vocal supporters.
Meanwhile, Democrats are excitedly watching the Republican in-fighting from the sidelines (mostly), and plan to capitalize on next week’s vote in the midterms. Their playbook is to invoke Trump and his “Big Lie” claims as often as possible, and any Republican who votes against Cheney is a chance to do that. When asked this week about the Cheney saga, President Joe Biden took the opportunity to sow the message of disunity in the Republican Party and called it a “mini-revolution.”
The makeup of Congress, and the current filibuster rules in an evenly divided Senate, make it more challenging for Democrats to quickly push through legislation, but Biden’s speech to Congress gave the distinct impression that Democrats are just getting started.
Criticism of Stefanik’s voting record doesn’t seem to have harmed her chances of becoming House GOP conference chair with traders. As soon as the market for who will be the GOP conference chair went up Wednesday, Stefanik shot to the top and hasn’t gone below 85¢. She ended Thursday at 94¢. This shows the tough spot that the House Freedom Caucus is in with the vote all but decided. Cheney, meanwhile, sits at 7¢, though she is the next most likely candidate.
Trump vs. Facebook –
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This week, Facebook’s 20-member Independent Oversight Board upheld Trump’s suspension from the social media platform, which the company imposed following the events of Jan. 6. The board vowed to re-examine its decision again within six months, and wrote in a statement:
“The Board found that, in maintaining an unfounded narrative of electoral fraud and persistent calls to action, Mr. Trump created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible.”
Trump’s reaction was about what you’d expect – he blasted Facebook and Twitter – which has permanently banned him – for what he says is a vast overreach by “Big Tech.”
“Big Tech’s” influence over information, and the need to reform antitrust laws, has long been an issue among lawmakers that has often taken a backseat to other political priorities. Moves to investigate the largest technology companies have been supported by Republicans like Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) for a while, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced an antitrust package earlier this year aimed at strengthening competition laws and revamping antitrust enforcement.
Trump’s continued ban from social media sites means that more Republicans are paying attention – potentially paving the way for elusive bipartisan legislation. Following the Facebook oversight board’s decision, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) jumped on the decision: “If Big Tech believes they have the power to silence a president of the United States, then we need to take a serious look at antitrust laws to limit their monopolistic power.”
And Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, tweeted: “If Facebook is so big it thinks it can silence the leaders you elect, it’s time for conservatives to pursue an antitrust agenda.”
Trump’s social media block significantly alters how he can communicate with his supporters at a time when current signs point to the former president ramping up a re-election campaign for 2024 presidential elections. Trump’s use of social media, especially Twitter, transformed the way a president communicates with the public and formulated policy, a trend that Biden hasn’t carried over. Now, he’s stuck with using cable news interviews and emailed press releases to make his thoughts known.
While Trump’s opponents are celebrating the extension of his Facebook ban, Republican strategists suggest the ban will only help the former president strengthen his case for re-election, and the conviction of his base that conservatives are targets of a partisan bias.
“He’s capable of raising unrivaled amounts from small-dollar contributors even without [Facebook],” said a Republican strategist. “It fuels the fire for conservatives to go after Big Tech.”