Top Senate Republicans are lining up behind Rep. Liz Cheney a day before House Republicans are expected to air their grievances in a conference meeting about her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.
In a tweet Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina echoed Minority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s statement Monday lauding Cheney’s leadership and conservative credentials. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa cautioned his colleagues across the Capitol about punishing a member of their conference over a difference of opinion.
The unusual move of senators weighing in on intraparty matters in the House is an indication of Cheney’s deep ties with party leaders and their concern about the future of the party. Her fate is part of a larger debate about how the party moves forward now that Trump has left the White House but vowed to remain an influential force.
Graham, a close ally of Trump, defended Cheney on Tuesday as “one of the strongest and most reliable conservative voices in the Republican Party.”
“In the eyes of many — Liz Cheney’s experience, leadership, and strength are invaluable to the Republican Party,” Graham added.
McConnell called Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, “an important leader in our party and in our nation,” and Grassley said the GOP will be successful if it’s open to “all ideas.”
House Republicans will meet Wednesday for the first time since the Trump impeachment vote, which 10 members of the conference supported. The meeting isn’t about Cheney specifically, but frustrations with her are expected to be brought up.
Some have called for Cheney to be stripped of her No. 3 leadership position, but it’s unclear how many members would support that move. Some offices estimate that more than 100 lawmakers would, which is about half the conference.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a Trump ally, flew to Cheney’s home state of Wyoming to hold a rally opposing her re-election and was joined via speakerphone by Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr.
Cheney has plenty of supporters in the House, including top Republicans such as Reps. Michael McCaul (Texas) and Tom Cole (Okla.).
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) both said they oppose removing Cheney from leadership but also see the need for an internal discussion. McCarthy told Gray TV he was blindsided by Cheney’s decision.
“She has a lot of questions she has to answer to the conference,” he said.
McCarthy simultaneously faces controversy surrounding Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), whose past comments and social media activity related to conspiracy theories and violence toward elected officials have led Democrats to call for her removal from committees.
To contact the reporter on this story: Emily Wilkins in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org