House

Republican says Stefanik not conservative enough to be GOP leader

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) on Tuesday argued that Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) is the wrong choice to fill Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-Wyo.) leadership position and lacks a conservative enough voting record to represent the House Republican Conference.

Roy, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, pointed to Stefanik’s past votes against the 2017 tax cut law and in support of Democratic bills to end former President Trump’s emergency declaration to fund a border wall, keep the U.S. in the Paris climate pact, and ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Installing someone like Stefanik in GOP leadership, Roy argued, would undermine Republicans’ messaging against such policies heading into the 2022 midterm elections.

“We must avoid putting in charge Republicans who campaign as Republicans but then vote for and advance the Democrats’ agenda once sworn in – that is, that we do not make the same mistakes we did in 2017,” Roy wrote in a memo to his GOP colleagues.

“Therefore, with all due respect to my friend, Elise Stefanik, let us contemplate the message Republican leadership is about to send by rushing to coronate a spokesperson whose voting record embodies much of what led to the 2018 ass-kicking we received by Democrats,” Roy continued.

Roy opposed the efforts by some of his Freedom Caucus colleagues to challenge the presidential election results and voted against the Electoral College challenges on the day of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

But Roy said that he will vote during a Wednesday House Republican Conference meeting to remove Cheney from her leadership position because “she forfeited her ability to be our spokesperson by pulling us into distraction.”

“From a position specifically designed to speak for all of us, she has been looking backwards while repeatedly and unhelpfully engaging in personal attacks and finger-wagging towards President Trump rather than leading the conference forward with a unifying message both on elections and more broadly,” Roy wrote.

Stefanik maintained to reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday that she has “a great deal of support from the Freedom Caucus and others.”

Roy suggested that Republicans find a more conservative replacement for Cheney’s leadership role or leave the position vacant instead.

“After vacating the current Conference Chair (held by Chairwoman Cheney), we should either choose someone who reflects our conservative values, or perhaps leave the position vacant and focus not on a position most people do not care about, but instead a strong agenda based on defending Americans from the radical left remaking their communities, the corporate-backed woke mob cancelling them, and a government tyrannically using the power of ‘unlimited’ money to destroy their livelihoods and indoctrinate their children — all while failing to do the basic duty of defending them,” Roy wrote.

Cheney holds a far more conservative voting record than Stefanik, with some conservative advocacy groups lamenting last week that Stefanik has one of the lowest ratings in the House GOP Conference.

Stefanik began her House career with a moderate voting record, but later became one of Trump’s top defenders during his first impeachment trial in 2019 and voted in January to challenge Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania. She also voted against Democrats’ LGBTQ equality bill in February after previously supporting a version of it in 2019.

But complaints about Stefanik’s voting record are largely of less importance in a vote that’s shaping up more as a loyalty test to Trump. Both House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) have endorsed Stefanik for the GOP conference chair role.

Scott Wong contributed.

Tags Chip Roy Donald Trump Elise Stefanik Kevin McCarthy Liz Cheney Steve Scalise

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