Cheney has grown increasingly isolated within her conference amid her feud with former President Donald Trump, a battle that intensified after she was one of just 10 Republicans who backed his impeachment on a charge of inciting the January 6 insurrection and as she’s called out his lie that he actually won the 2020 election.
But on Tuesday, McCarthy claimed her impeachment vote wouldn’t cost her the job. Instead, he said that she has not done enough to keep the party unified behind a singular message to win back the majority next year, the clearest sign yet that he might seek to oust her as soon as next week.
“I have heard from members, concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message,” McCarthy told Fox News on Tuesday morning. “We all need to be working as one, if we’re able to win the majority. Remember, majorities are not given, they are earned, and that’s about the message about going forward.”
McCarthy added that the question going forward is “what’s our best step forward that we could all work together instead of attacking one another.”
Cheney has stood by her criticism against Trump even amid the increasing attacks from her own House GOP colleagues. On Monday morning, the Wyoming Republican called out Trump’s “BIG LIE” for continuing to make false claims about the 2020 election results. Cheney said later on Monday her party cannot accept the “poison” of the idea that the 2020 election was stolen and should not “whitewash” the January 6 Capitol riot — and Trump’s role in fomenting it, making comments behind closed doors at a conference in Sea Island, Georgia.
Cheney’s future as Republican leadership is looking increasingly grim, with chatter now growing in GOP circles about her replacement in leadership as she’s become alienated in her conference amid her feud with Trump.
It’s still not known which candidates might emerge — and who would actually win because it’d be a secret ballot election and no candidates have yet announced they would run. Cheney would first have to step aside, or McCarthy could hold a quick vote to force her out, though he hasn’t said if he will do that yet.
But with Cheney, the highest-ranking woman in GOP leadership, Republicans are keenly aware how it would appear to replace her with a man. So speculation is growing that a woman might be the best fit for the conference, aides and lawmakers tell CNN.
Some Republican women who might be in the running include Jackie Walorski of Indiana, Elise Stefanik of New York, Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida and Ashley Hinson of Iowa.
Reps. Mike Johnson of Louisiana and Jim Banks of Indiana are also said to be potential candidates.
It’s not clear as of Tuesday who actually is being considered since there currently is no vote scheduled to replace Cheney — though Republicans expect one could happen as soon as next week.