It pays to kiss up to the boss.
House Republicans just voted to make New York Rep. Elise Stefanik their conference chair, rewarding a onetime moderate for becoming one of President Trump’s fiercest champions.
Stefanik takes the third position in House leadership just days after Republicans unceremoniously booted Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney from her job for the cardinal sin of refusing to accept Trump’s lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
Stefanik easily prevailed over Texas Rep. Chip Roy in the contest, defeating an actual hard-line conservative who ran a protest campaign because no one else would run.
Stefanik won the vote by 134-46. Her win shows that Republicans aren’t even pretending that conservatism is their defining principle—it’s fealty to Trump, and a willingness to say anything to support him.
Trump supported Stefanik’s bid, and immediately celebrated her win.
“Congratulations to Elise Stefanik for her Big and Overwhelming victory! The House GOP is united and the Make America Great Again movement is Strong!” he said in a statement.
Stefanik began her House career as a moderate and Trump critic who often voted against her party. But during his first impeachment she embraced Trump, becoming one of his loudest and most effective defenders. That made her a Fox News darling, a favorite of Trump’s, and a hero on the right, even though she’d often voted against top GOP priorities—including Trump’s tax cut, the most significant legislation that passed during his presidency.
Roy, on the other hand, is an OG Tea Party conservative and a stubborn iconoclast who’s unwilling to sacrifice his values for political convenience. As Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s chief of staff, he played a major role in conservatives forcing a 2013 government shutdown in an attempt to repeal Obamacare, and since he got to Congress has voted hard to the right of the conference.
Roy outlined all the ways he was more conservative than Stefanik in a convenient vote checklist:
But, like Cheney, he was sharply critical of Trump’s desperate, false efforts to reject the legitimate results of the 2020 election. Roy was one of only a handful of House conservatives who publicly pushed back on the big lie. After pro-Trump rioters stormed the House on January 6, he condemned their actions and seriously considered voting to impeach Trump.
Stefanik celebrated her win, pledging to fight against Democrats’ “radical policies” and insisting it shows Republicans are about “protecting our Constitution.”
But her win shows that’s not true.
Stefanik’s win means all three members of House Republican leadership voted against ratifying Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. Stefanik, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise all cast votes against confirming Biden’s victory in key swing states, claiming without evidence that he didn’t win them fair and square, perpetuating the lie that the 2020 election was rigged against Trump and abdicating their constitutional responsibilities to do what’s politically convenient.
And it’s the latest evidence that all that matters in the modern Republican Party is fealty to Trump.
Cheney warned her GOP colleagues: “We cannot both embrace the Big Lie and embrace the Constitution.”
Stefanik’s win shows what side they chose.