Liz Cheney's future in Republican leadership decided by voice vote in closed-door meeting

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WASHINGTON – The vote Wednesday on Rep. Liz Cheney's future as a member of House Republican leadership was conducted by a voice vote behind closed doors.

Cheney was in the room when the vote to oust her as the chair of the House Republican Conference, the chamber's third most-powerful Republican, took place.

Under long-standing conference rules, votes were cast in a closed-door meeting by the members who physically show up to the morning meeting in the Capitol. No proxy voting is allowed.

The vote was expected to be by secret ballot. The change to a voice vote was not known until the meeting began.

A simple majority of those voting decided Cheney's fate.

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

At the time, Cheney benefitted from the support of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy 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 closed-door nature of the vote, it won't be immediately clear who voted with Cheney or against her.

Cheney had 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."

On Wednesday morning, after the vote, Kinzinger said, “What happened today was sad.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., talks to reporters following a House Republican Conference meeting in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on Wednesday.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., talks to reporters following a House Republican Conference meeting in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on Wednesday.

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.

More: GOP takes sides on Cheney's ouster, with one congressman calling party 'basically the Titanic'

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.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Voice vote in closed Republican meeting decided Liz Cheney's fate

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