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Elise Stefanik elected to House GOP leadership post

Cheney's ouster leaves GOP divided
Cheney's ouster leaves GOP divided 01:58

Washington — House Republicans voted to install New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik as their new conference chair on Friday, after Congresswoman Liz Cheney was unceremoniously ousted from her post due to her persistent criticism of former President Donald Trump.

The vote was a secret ballot, with members having the choice between Stefanik and Congressman Chip Roy of Texas. The final tally was 134 to 46. There were a few write-in votes for other members, and nine members voted present.

Stefanik was the heavy favorite to win, as she had support from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, prominent Freedom Caucus member Jim Jordan and Mr. Trump himself.

In a statement released after the vote, Stefanik said she was "truly honored and humbled" to be elected.

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Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) smiles as she arrives to vote for the new Republican conference chairperson at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on May 14, 2021. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

"House Republicans are united in our focus to fight on behalf of the American people to save our country from the radical Socialist Democrat agenda of President Biden and Nancy Pelosi," Stefanik said.

In remarks to the press after the vote, Stefanik indicated that, unlike Cheney, she continues to see Mr. Trump as a leader in the party.

"I also want to thank President Trump for his support. He's a critical part of our Republican team," Stefanik said.

Congresswoman Ashley Hinson nominated Stefanik for conference chair, saying in remarks that Stefanik "is the right person to unify us so that we can best tell it to the American people." Hinson, a freshman from Iowa, was supported by Stefanik's PAC focused on electing Republican women to Congress.

"Her leadership inspired dozens of women to step up and run. Many of those women are sitting in this room today. Elise cares about this conference. She cares about the future of this party," Hinson said in her remarks. Congressman John Katko, Stefanik's fellow Republican from upstate New York, also nominated Stefanik.

Elise Stefanik speaks after House GOP vote 05:37

After a candidate forum on Thursday, Stefanik said she knew the vote count and believed she was "in a strong position going into tomorrow." Stefanik said she focused on unifying the conference and retaking the majority, and highlighted her status as a swing district Republican.

Roy, a member of the Freedom Caucus, launched his bid on Wednesday. Roy told reporters on Friday ahead of the meeting that there was a "good, robust debate" during the forum on Thursday. He also said that the conference would be "united" regardless of who was elected conference chair.

"I am always going to try to be a voice for advancing the policies that I think are right and to try to make sure that we're representing the people. But we'll all be united. It's pretty easy to unite against the radical agenda of the current administration," Roy said.

Roy had issued a memo on Tuesday saying he would not support Stefanik, citing her vote against Mr. Trump's 2017 tax proposal. Congressman Ken Buck, another member of the Freedom Caucus, nominated Roy. Buck told reporters on Wednesday that he believed Stefanik was a "liberal" and said he would not support her.

Nevertheless, Buck indicated after the vote on Friday that the party would be united going forward, and said that it was a "relief" to move on from the leadership fight.

"The problem that Republicans have is President Biden, and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. So what we do with our sentiment is we get behind Kevin McCarthy and the team, and we work hard to make sure that we get in the majority in a year and a half," Buck said.

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Representative Elise Stefanik is seen in the Capitol Visitor Center before House Republicans voted to remove Representative Liz Cheney from the position of House Republican Conference Chair on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

In a statement on Friday morning, Mr. Trump congratulated Stefanik.

"Congratulations to Elise Stefanik for her Big and Overwhelming victory!," he said. "The House GOP is united and the Make America Great Again movement is Strong!"

According to FiveThiryEight, Roy voted with Trump's position 89.5% of the time, and Stefanik voted with Trump's position 77.7% of the time.

Despite her previous votes that may have seemed antithetical to Mr. Trump's agenda, Jordan has pointed out that Stefanik has been a staunch supporter of the former president, and said that he believed she would be able to effectively represent the positions of House Republicans. Stefanik was one of the former president's most vocal supporters during the 2019 impeachment trial, and has been called a "star" by Mr. Trump.

"She's an effective communicator," Jordan told reporters on Tuesday.

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Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, June 18, 2019. Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call

Stefanik spoke with members of the Freedom Caucus on Wednesday evening, seeking to assuage some concerns. Asked about her message to members of the Freedom Caucus on Wednesday night, Stefanik said, "We have a lot of support from individual members in the Freedom Caucus."

"I think it's important that the conference chair listen to all members of the conference," Stefanik said.

Zak Hudak contributed to this report.

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