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GOP divided over Liz Cheney's future

Republicans are divided over the future of House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyRepublicans, please save your party House GOP campaign chief: Not helpful for Trump to meddle in primaries Democrats snipe on policy, GOP brawls over Trump MORE (Wyo.) after her vote Wednesday to impeach President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot Intelligence community investigating links between lawmakers, Capitol rioters Michelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' MORE.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) are circulating a petition that seeks to force Cheney out of her leadership role for her decision, which she called a “vote of conscience.”

They say her decision to announce her position a day before the vote gave Democrats talking points to go after Republicans.

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Cheney didn’t take part in the floor debate, but she was mentioned repeatedly by Democratic speakers. Several Republicans noted the remarks by House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse Democrats introduce bill providing citizenship to Dreamers On The Money: Democrats deals to bolster support for relief bill | Biden tries to keep Democrats together | Retailers fear a return of the mask wars Here's who Biden is now considering for budget chief MORE (D-Md.), who cited Cheney as he made the case for Trump’s impeachment.

“If you're in leadership, you can vote your conscience, but you can't get up there and make it harder for the members of your team by giving talking points to the opponents,” one member told The Hill. 

Cheney says she’s not stepping down.

“I'm not going anywhere,” she told reporters Wednesday. “This is a vote of conscience. It's one where there are different views in our conference. But our nation is facing an unprecedented, since the civil war, a constitutional crisis.”

And she has plenty of defenders in the conference, even if only nine Republicans joined her in voting to impeach Trump.

“Look, everybody cast the votes that are best for their district and their conscience. If we begin to get in internal fights, if we're going to have disagreements over the votes that are passed, that just gives Democrats wins because of our own self-inflicted internal wounds,” Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisHouse-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference Biden to meet with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure House passes voting rights and elections reform bill MORE (R-Ill.), told The Hill. 

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“I mean we're how many days into a new Congress? Twelve days? At this point in time, we've got to step up and band together to fight the Democrats who are going to run on what is happening here. And Liz has been a fighter since I've known her. I think when push comes to shove, Liz will have the support of the conference. She certainly has my support,” he added. 

Republicans hawkish on national security have also backed Cheney, who has frequently battled with Trump on defense issues.

Rep. Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawCrenshaw pours cold water on 2024 White House bid: 'Something will emerge' Six ways to visualize a divided America Texas lawmakers' tweets mocking California power outages resurface amid winter storm MORE (R-Texas) on Wednesday took to Twitter to praise Cheney as someone with “a hell of a lot more backbone than most, & is a principled leader with a fierce intellect.”

The former Navy SEAL added that she “will continue to be a much-needed leader in the conference, with my full support.”

First-term Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who hails from a military family and attended the military college The Citadel, also defended Cheney, as did Rep. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoySome Republicans say proxy voting gives advantage to Democrats House passes sweeping protections for LGBTQ people GOP's Chip Roy vows to fight Equality Act in court MORE (R-Texas), who rejected calls for her to step down.

“Liz should be commended, not condemned, for standing up in defense of the Constitution and standing true to her beliefs,” Roy said in a statement Wednesday.

Cheney opposed the majority of her conference on challenges to the Electoral College results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. While a majority of the House GOP voted to negate those results, Cheney did not, putting her on the right with corporations and trade association now halting contributions to Republicans on the other side of the vote.

One defender said she could play a vital role in helping vulnerable moderates retain their seats. This source also said it would be a bad idea for the House GOP to oust the highest-ranking women in leadership. 

“Cheney now has important credibility with moderate Republicans, independents, and swing Democrats — the critical voters we’ll need to win if we’re going to take back the House. She’s going to be an asset campaigning for GOP members and candidates in bellwether districts that determine who is in the majority in 2023,” this source said.

Reps. Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinMajority of New York voters say Cuomo should not be reelected: poll GOP lawmaker 'actively exploring' run for New York governor Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in on Trump impeachment trial; Biden administration eyes timeline for mass vaccinations MORE (R-N.Y.) and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikParliamentarian strikes down Pelosi priority in aid package Cuomo asks New York AG to appoint independent attorney to investigate sexual harassment claims Psaki: Cuomo should face 'independent review' over sexual harassment allegations MORE (R-N.Y.) — two of Trump’s top defenders during his first impeachment trial — have both been suggested as possible Cheney replacements, sources said. One GOP official said Stefanik has been making calls to her colleagues on the matter. 

A spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyWatch live: McCarthy holds press briefing Biden vows to work with Congress to 'refine' voting rights bill House passes voting rights and elections reform bill MORE (R-Calif.), meanwhile, confirmed Thursday that he will not support House conservatives’ effort to oust Cheney from her position, even though he opposes Trump’s impeachment. During a conference call Monday before the vote, the California Republican called on members not to attack each other in the press, multiple sources confirmed to The Hill.  

But some argued that McCarthy could have come out more forcefully in defense of Cheney.

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Others said they feel the tensions between Cheney and conservatives will tamp down, noting emotions have been high since the events that took place on Jan. 6.

“Cooler heads should prevail here, and I think they will,” one lawmaker said.