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'We are unified in working with President Trump' -Stefanik

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Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives elected Trump-backed Stefanik to their leadership after ousting Cheney for criticizing Trump's continued false claims of election fraud.

The secret-ballot vote boosted Trump's dominance over the party even after it lost its majorities in the House and Senate, as well as the White House, during his single term in office. Trump is positioning himself to play a major role in next year's congressional elections and is also flirting with a 2024 White House run.

"I believe that voters choose the leader of the Republican Party and President Trump is the leader that they look to," Stefanik said.

Stefanik defeated Representative Chip Roy, who entered the race to serve as chair of the House Republican Conference on Thursday night.

House conservatives including Roy had complained that Stefanik's voting record was not conservative enough, including a vote against Trump's 2017 tax cuts, his main legislative accomplishment. But the party in the end lined up behind Trump, who blasted Roy's entry into the contest in a statement, hinting at backing a primary challenger to him next year.

Now free of her job as head of the Republican conference, Cheney, a lawmaker with impeccable conservative credentials and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, vows to steer the party away from a man she says is "pushing the lie" that his defeat in the 2020 election was the result of massive voter fraud.

Trump's claim was rejected by multiple courts, state election officials and his own administration. Cheney calls him "an ongoing threat" to U.S. democracy.

By dumping Cheney and electing Stefanik, Republicans demonstrated that adherence to strict conservative ideology is no longer of prime importance in the Trump era.

The conservative Club for Growth, which rates members of Congress, gives Stefanik a lifetime score of just 35% for voting in line with its priorities, one of the worst among House Republicans, and well below Cheney's 65%.