Politics & Policy

Joni Ernst Accuses GOP of Partaking in ‘Cancel Culture’ over Cheney Ouster

Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa), speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill, March 25, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters)

Senator Joni Ernst on Monday likened efforts to remove Representative Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) from her leadership role to “cancel culture” and accused some of her fellow Republicans of “trying to silence others in the party.”

“I feel it’s OK to go ahead and express what you feel is right to express and, you know, cancel culture is cancel culture no matter how you look at it,” the senator from Iowa said when asked about the push to oust Cheney. “Unfortunately, I think there are those that are trying to silence others in the party.” 

Ernst’s comments come as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) announced that a vote would be held Wednesday on whether to remove Cheney from her role as House Republican Conference chair.

“It had been my hope that our driving focus would be taking back the House in 2022 and implementing our Commitment to America,” McCarthy wrote in a statement. “Unfortunately, each day spent relitigating the past is one day less we have to seize the future.”

McCarthy added, “These internal conflicts need to be resolved so as not to detract from the efforts of our collective team. Having heard from so many of you in recent days, it’s clear that we need to make a change. As such, you should anticipate a vote on recalling the Conference Chair on Wednesday.”

Cheney, the third-highest-ranking House Republican, has drawn the ire of her Republican colleagues repeatedly since she voted in favor of Trump’s second impeachment. Last month, she told the New York Post that while she believes Republicans could take back the presidency in 2024, she thinks lawmakers who supported his effort to overturn the 2020 election results should be disqualified from running.

Ernst, who is the Senate GOP’s conference vice chair, said that while she supports Trump and his policies, she still believes “we shouldn’t be trying to cancel voices.” Unlike Cheney, Ernst voted to acquit Trump during both of his impeachment trials.

“What we can do is come together and try to win seats in 2022. I think that’s what all of us should be focused on,” said Ernst, the only woman in Senate Republicans’ elected leadership team. She added that she believes the Cheney drama serves as a distraction from that.

Despite GOP infighting, Cheney received overwhelming support in a secret ballot the House GOP conference conducted in February. The conference voted 145–61 then to keep Cheney in her leadership role.

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