Liz Cheney’s future in Republican leadership to be decided by secret ballot in closed-door meeting

WASHINGTON – The expected vote Wednesday on Rep. Liz Cheney’s future as a member of House Republican leadership will be conducted by secret ballot behind closed doors.

Even Cheney, who will be in the room, won’t know everyone who may vote to oust her as the chair of the House Republican Conference, and who could vote to keep her as the chamber’s third most-powerful Republican.

Under long-standing conference rules, votes will be cast in secret by the members who physically show up to the morning meeting in the Capitol. No proxy voting is allowed. When it’s over, the top House Republican, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is expected to come out of the meeting and announce the results to the press.

A simple majority of those voting will decide Cheney’s fate.

That’s what happened in February when some Republicans sought to strip Cheney of he leadership post following the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump that she supported. The vote was 145-61 (with one abstention) by secret ballot to keep Cheney on as conference chair.

Rep. Liz Cheney heads to the House floor to vote at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 3, 2021 in Washington, DC.

At the time, Cheney benefitted from McCarthy’s backing and the lack of a clear alternative. But her support from those in GOP leadership is running dry. Some members including McCarthy, the House’s No. 2 Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., and Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, who chairs the chamber’s largest GOP caucus, the Republican Study Committee, all have come out against Cheney.

Congressional votes on official business, such as bills, resolutions and nominations, are open and recorded, forcing lawmakers to go on the record with their positions. Party machinations are different, often hidden from public view.

Because of the secret ballot it won’t be immediately clear who voted with Cheney or against her. Though a few lawmakers might make short speeches or signal their preference in another way.

Cheney will have some allies in the room. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who also voted to impeach Trump, has come out in favor of the Wyoming Republican.

“I think the reality is that we as a party need to have an internal look and a full accounting as to what led to January 6,” he said Sunday on CBS News’ “Face the Nation”. I mean, right now it’s basically like we’re the Titanic. We’re in the middle of this slow sink, there’s a band on deck telling everyone it’s fine, meanwhile Donald Trump is looking for women’s clothing trying to get on the first life boat.”

Cheney’s vote to impeach Trump in January and her continued pushback against Trump’s baseless claims that widespread voter fraud cost him the November election have fueled the momentum to remove her from leadership.

Trump has endorsed her ouster, slamming Cheney as a “warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party Leadership” in a statement issued last week through his Save America PAC.

“We want leaders who believe in the Make America Great Again movement, and prioritize the values of America First,” the former president said.

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