WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Kevin McCarthy is leading his party to an inflection point, preparing to dump Rep. Liz Cheney from the No. 3 House leadership position and transform what’s left of the party of Lincoln more decisively into the party of Trump.
The GOP leader argues that ousting Cheney has less to do with her very public criticism of the former president’s lies about his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden than her inability to set aside personal convictions and do her job. As conference chair responsible for communicating a unified party message, Cheney has lost the confidence of rank-and-file lawmakers, he said this week.
But in tossing aside Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president and as close as it gets to GOP royalty, and promising a “big tent” to win back power, McCarthy is hollowing out a cadre of lawmakers intent on governing while he is elevating the people and personalities most loyal to Donald Trump.
It’s a transformational moment for McCarthy, who resurrected his political career by attaching himself to Trump — who called him “My Kevin” — and is now on a glidepath to become House speaker, second in line to the presidency, if Republicans win control in next year’s elections.
“There’s a complete changing of the guard here,” said Adam Brandon, president of the conservative FreedomWorks, a tea party group aligned with Trump’s rise.
“This started as one thing and morphed into something else: It’s about the future.”
The vote as soon as next week is expected to be decisive, showing the power of Trump’s reach, particularly on McCarthy.