Republican lawmakers in the United States appear poised to remove Congresswoman Liz Cheney, a prominent critic of former President Donald Trump, from the third-highest leadership post within the party.
Republicans in the US House of Representatives could vote as early as Wednesday on whether Cheney, the daughter of hawkish former US Vice President Dick Cheney, will retain her position as chair of the Republican Conference.
On Sunday, the top House Republican said he supported a bid by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a Trump supporter, to take up the role.
“We want to be united in moving forward, and I think that is what will take place,” Congressman Kevin McCarthy said in an interview on Fox News’s Sunday Morning Futures programme on Sunday.
The second-ranking House Republican leader, Steve Scalise, also supports Stefanik, a 36-year-old lawmaker from New York state whose status in the party rose after she defended Trump during congressional hearings ahead of his 2019 impeachment.
The contentious vote is the latest example of a growing rift within the Republican Party between supporters and critics of Trump, who has sought to portray himself as the only political leader capable of uniting the party.
Cheney has publicly lambasted Trump for his false claims that last year’s US presidential election was stolen from him amid widespread voter fraud.
She was also among 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection after a mob of his supporters stormed the US Capitol building on January 6 in a riot that killed five people.
Some of the Republicans who voted to impeach Trump have since faced rebukes from their respective state Republican parties.
In an opinion piece on Wednesday in The Washington Post, Cheney denounced the “dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality” and warned her fellow Republicans against embracing or ignoring his statements “for fundraising and political purposes”.
Other Republicans have also warned that Cheney’s likely expulsion from the party leadership could sink the GOP.
“Right now, it’s basically the Titanic,” Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger, who also voted to impeach Trump, told CBS’s Face the Nation programme. “We’re in the middle of this slow sink. We have a band playing on the deck telling everybody it’s fine.”
Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said it bothered him “that you have to swear fealty to the dear leader or you get kicked out of the party”.
“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Hogan said in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press programme on Sunday.