May 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP Sen. Joni Ernst defends Liz Cheney, calls for GOP unity

Joni Ernst

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) defended Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) amid a growing effort to oust her as House Republican conference chair, emphasizing the need to "come together as a party," Politico reports.

Why it matters: Ernst is the only other woman in elected GOP leadership, serving as the vice chair of the Senate Republican Conference.

  • Cheney's criticisms of former President Trump, whom she voted to impeach for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, has escalated tensions within the party.
  • Trump and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) publicly endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) to replace Cheney, while GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was caught on a hot mic on Tuesday saying he's "lost confidence" in Cheney and "has had it with" her behavior.

What she's saying: Ernst told Politico she doesn't agree with Cheney's anti-Trump stance, but maintained that the No. 3 House Republican has the right to express her opinions.

  • “I appreciate President Trump and I appreciate all he has done for our country. And I think we made significant strides forward under the Trump administration, especially in our economy. But everybody has the right to express their opinion," she said.
  • "Any elected official should stand their ground. If you feel firmly about something, you should stand your ground."
  • "But I also believe that we need to come together as a party, recognize we have differences within the party but the goal with us should be to win seats,” Ernst added.

The big picture: Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. She could be ousted from leadership when the House GOP conference meets next Wednesday.

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