Cheney seeks to cool tensions with House conservatives
House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) at a Monday meeting with the House Freedom Caucus committed that she will not donate to an incumbent’s primary rival going forward, seeing to diffuse lingering tensions with conservatives.
Cheney discussed the need to unify the party ahead of the 2022 midterms during the meeting, which was also attended by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). All three laid out their case to remain in the House GOP’s leaders. House Republicans voted to keep the team on Tuesday.
Three sources in the room said Cheney’s commitment to not offer financial support to an incumbent’s challenger was a vow that would ease concerns among conservative lawmakers.
Friction between Cheney and conservative lawmakers emerged after a heated exchange during a closed-door conference meeting in July.
Critics of Cheney took aim at her leadership style, questioned her loyalty to President Trump and slammed her decision to donate to Rep. Thomas Massie’s (R-Ky.) primary opponent. Cheney later withdrew her endorsement of Todd McMurty and the her donation was returned after racist posts by McMurty on social media were uncovered.
One senior GOP source said there might have been a challenge of sorts to Cheney at Tuesday’s vote without her comments to the group.
The source said some members had “planned to seek a roll call vote on her election so some could vote present as a way to chastise her. They opted not to after her answer.”
Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) told Cheney at the meeting that he appreciated her message of unity, but added “it’s important for us to know that you’re not going to preach that message and then turn around and invest in one of our opponents’ campaigns,” one source in the room told The Hill.
Cheney said she only donated to Massie’s opponent after President Trump tweeted he wanted the Kentucky Republican gone. Trump had been irked when Massie threatened to take steps to delay a House vote on a coronavirus relief package backed by the president in the spring.
Cheney then told the group that she apologized to Massie, assuring them she wouldn’t go after sitting House members and is focused on helping bring the party together to help take back control of the lower chamber in 2022.
Cheney has been at odds with Trump and some conservatives on several issues, including Trump’s support for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
But a senior GOP aide said such tension have cooled.
“I think any of the animosity from July where a couple of our members got a little fiery about her involvement against Massie and her tweets about Trump has died down. She showed a willingness to work alongside us and did not shy away from any question she was asked,” the aide said.
One source familiar with the meeting said Cheney “made clear she will continue to speak out on national security policy and they all agreed there will be issues on which they disagree.” The Freedom Caucus extended an invitation for her to come back to future meetings to discuss national security.