Ernst defends Cheney, calls for GOP unity
GOP Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) on Wednesday defended House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (Wyo.) amid growing pushback from fellow House Republicans while also urging the party to unify.
“Any elected official should stand their ground. If you feel firmly about something, you should stand your ground,” Ernst told Politico. “But I also believe that we need to come together as a party, recognize we have differences within the party but the goal with us should be to win seats.”
Ernst serves as vice chair of the Senate Republican Conference, making her one of only two women in GOP leadership in Congress, along with Cheney.
Cheney has faced a barrage of criticism and calls for her to be removed from House leadership after defending her vote to impeach former President Trump following the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
The backlash escalated this week when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said GOP members were “concerned” Cheney couldn’t carry out her job. The Republican leader was also reportedly caught on a hot mic saying he has “had it” with Cheney.
Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), the No. 2 House Republican, also joined calls to remove Cheney from her post, releasing a statement Wednesday backing Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) to replace her as conference chair.
Ernst told Politico, “What’s going on in the House — they need to evaluate is this helping or hurting our party.”
“I know Liz. I appreciate Liz so much. And she feels very strongly about her stance. And again, I know many Republicans that feel very strongly about their stance: pro-Trump, not for Trump, whatever it is. But at the end of the day we have work to get done,” she added.
The Iowa senator said, “At the end of the day we need to all pull together as Republicans and make sure that we’re securing seats.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday avoided answering questions on whether he would attempt to step in to try to help Cheney hold on to her leadership role.
“One hundred percent of my focus is on stopping this new administration,” McConnell told reporters.
—Updated at 3:50 p.m.
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