Steve Scalise breaks with Liz Cheney, backs Rep. Stefanik for GOP leadership post

Steve Scalise breaks with Liz Cheney, backs Rep. Stefanik for GOP leadership post

05/05/2021

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House Minority Whip Steve Scalise is no longer supporting GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney remaining in leadership, confirming to The Post Wednesday morning that he is officially backing New York Rep. Elise Stefanik for the job.

In a statement first released by Punchbowl News, later obtained by The Post, Scalise (R-La.) spokeswoman Lauren Fine explained the decision as one about keeping Republicans’ priorities in check.

“House Republicans need to be solely focused on taking back the House in 2022 and fighting against Speaker Pelosi and President Biden’s radical socialist agenda, and Elise Stefanik is strongly committed to doing that, which is why Whip Scalise has pledged to support her for Conference Chair,” Fine’s statement read.

Reps for Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Stefanik (R-NY) did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment on the endorsement.

Cheney is currently in the fight of her political life as she navigates a flurry of primary challengers for her Wyoming seat over her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump and her continued rhetoric on the matter.

The No. 3 House Republican survived an attempt to oust her from leadership in February over her impeachment vote.

Her standing with GOP colleagues has weakened since then, however, as members grew frustrated with her continued comments regarding the former president and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Her split with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on the scope of a 9/11-style commission on the riot, as well as her revealing exclusively to The Post that she was mulling a 2024 White House bid, also drew the ire of leadership.

McCarthy was caught on a hot mic Tuesday afternoon stating, “I think she’s got real problems. I’ve had it with … I’ve had it with her. You know, I’ve lost confidence.”

While declining to make his support for Stefanik public, Punchbowl News reported Wednesday that the 36-year-old New York Republican was receiving McCarthy’s help behind closed doors.

The outlet reported that McCarthy had reached out to candidates convincing them not to run in an effort to clear the field for Stefanik.

A McCarthy spokesperson did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

Stefanik is a former chair of the moderate Tuesday Group who played a leading role in defending Trump during his first set of impeachment hearings.

She has a close working relationship with McCarthy, making her an ideal choice after GOP lawmakers grew concerned that Cheney be replaced by a female lawmaker.

She previously worked as a staffer on Paul Ryan’s vice presidential campaign effort.

In response to the GOP party infighting, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) mocked the internal squabbles with a bit of trolling, releasing a mock “help wanted” ad saying that Republicans were looking for a “non-threatening female” to replace Cheney.

“Word is out that House GOP Leaders are looking to push Rep. Liz Cheney from her post as House Republican Conference Chair – their most senior woman in GOP leadership – for a litany of very Republican reasons: she won’t lie, she isn’t humble enough, she’s like a girlfriend rooting for the wrong team, and more,” the ad read, referring to previous media reports about criticism of Cheney from Republican male lawmakers.

“I do commend Lynne Cheney for her courage, for her patriotism,” she said later Wednesday while taking questions from reporters, accidentally referring to Cheney’s mother.

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