Politics & Policy

Biden on Effort to Oust Cheney: ‘I Don’t Understand the Republicans’

President Joe Biden speaks in the Cross Hall at the White House in Washington, D.C., April 20, 2021. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

President Biden said “I don’t understand the Republicans” in response to a question on Wednesday about a GOP push to remove Representative Liz Cheney (R., Wy.) from her role as chair of the House Republican Conference.

Biden’s initial comment came as he returned to his motorcade from a Washington, D.C., taqueria. Later at the White House, Biden added to his comments, saying that he believes the GOP is having an identity crisis.

“They’re in the midst of a significant, sort of, mini-revolution going on in the Republican Party,” Biden said. “… I think the Republicans are further away from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought they would be at this point.”

The president’s remarks follow reports that GOP leaders are looking to oust Cheney from her No. 3 leadership position after she told the New York Post last week that while she believes Republicans could take back the presidency in 2024, she thinks lawmakers who supported Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results should be disqualified from running.

Representative Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) has received support from former President Trump as well as the top two Republicans in the House for her bid to replace Cheney.

A spokeswoman for House GOP Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) said Wednesday that the No. 2 Republican in the House “has pledged to support [Stefanik] for conference chair.”

“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,” Scalise’s spokeswoman, Lauren Fine, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, according to Punchbowl News, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) is working with Scalise to support Stefanik for Conference Chair after having told Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy in off-air comments that he thinks Cheney has “got real problems.”

“I’ve had it with … I’ve had it with her. You know, I’ve lost confidence. … Well, someone just has to bring a motion, but I assume that will probably take place,” McCarthy said in a tape of the conversation, which was obtained by Axios on Tuesday.

Cheney has drawn the ire of her Republican colleagues repeatedly since she voted in favor of Trump’s second impeachment but previously survived a secret ballot the House GOP conference conducted in February over whether to keep her in her post.  The conference voted 145–61 to keep Cheney in her leadership role at that time.

Recent comments from party leadership seem to suggest the House GOP could hold a second vote to oust Cheney in the near future.

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