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Liz Cheney’s likely replacement, Elise Stefanik, isn’t nearly as conservative, but she tells ‘MAGA tales about the election with gusto,’ expert says

  • Donald Trump endorsed New York Rep. Elise Stefanik to replace Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney as as House conference chair. 
  • Cheney’s voting record is more conservative, and more Trumpy, than Stefanik’s.
  • But Stefanik promotes Trump’s election claims, while Cheney’s opposition frustrates the GOP, one expert said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming was ousted from her role as the number three Republican in the House of Representatives this week after refusing to pull back on her criticism of former President Donald Trump.

In a voice vote Wednesday, GOP representatives voted to strip her of her role as chair of the House Republican Conference. Rep. Elise Stefanik has been pegged to take her place.

The New York congresswoman has the support of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and former President Trump himself, despite the fact that her voting record isn’t nearly as conservative — or as Trumpy — as Cheney’s. The key thing she does have going for her: loyalty to Trump and his claims about the 2020 election.

Read more: Anti-Trump Republicans spook GOP with the threat of a spinoff 3rd party

“The litmus test for leadership at this moment is being on message with Trump and his most fervid supporters regarding the election results,” Kevin Kosar, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and co-editor of the book “Congress Overwhelmed,” told Insider. “And Rep. Stefanik has been telling MAGA tales about the election with gusto.”

According to data compiled by FiveThirtyEight, Cheney voted in line with Trump’s position 93% of the time, while Stefanik only voted in line with Trump 78% of the time.

Stefanik’s votes countered the president on issues that included the National Defense Authorization Act, US Postal Service funding, disaster aid to Puerto Rico, and Environmental Protection Agency chemical regulations.

Cheney voted with Trump much more frequently, mostly departing on election issues as well as the National Defense Authorization Act and withdrawing troops from Syria, among others.

Stefanik, who was once considered a moderate in the House, even spoke out against Trump’s rhetoric and policy positions in 2015 and 2016, criticizing his comments on women and Muslims, among other issues, CNN reported.

But she emerged as a staunch Trump supporter in 2019, defending him during his first impeachment. Trump branded her a “new Republican star” at the time. She went on to enthusiastically promote his unsubstantiated and false claims about the 2020 presidential election, Insider’s Eliza Relman previously reported.

 

She was one of the 147 GOP lawmakers who voted to overturn the results of the election, repeating false claims about widespread fraud. She backed a Texas bid to overturn the results in four battleground states won by Biden, a case dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Trump endorsed Stefanik to replace Cheney, who has consistently pushed back against the former president’s election claims. Cheney was one of just 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Trump, and has criticized her own party for embracing Trump’s efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the election.

Following her vote in favor of impeachment, she survived a February vote over whether she should lose her position, with McCarthy defending her at the time. But Kosar said her refusal to back down on her defense of the election has created problems for others in her party, including McCarthy and the number two House Republican, Rep. Steve Scalise.

“She refuses to humor former President Trump and has publicly spoken loudly and clearly since February on this issue, which creates headaches for McCarthy and Scalise, who have to deal with Trump, the GOP base, and media inquiries about Cheney,” he said.

Despite Cheney’s record being more conservative and more in line with Trump’s, Kosar said GOP leadership want the election issue to go away so they can focus on 2022, but the Wyoming congresswoman is intent on not letting her party get away with that.


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