Congresswoman Elisa Stefanik, a staunch defender of Donald Trump, was chosen Friday as the new speaker in the House of Representatives of the Republican Party, which is seeking to unite amid an explosive debate over her leadership.
“Thank you to my colleagues for electing me to the position,” said Stefanik, 36, after announcing that she will be the party’s number 3 in the Lower House and the most powerful Republican in Congress.
“My focus will be on unity,” she told reporters.
As a “conference chair”, Elise Stefanik’s new role is to carry the party’s message internally and to the voters, a crucial position ahead of the 2022 legislative elections.
“The American people know that the stake is high,” she said, indicating that one of the main goals of Republicans is to have a coherent speech to regain the majority in the House of Representatives lost in 2018.
“We will fight every day against the destructive, radical, leftist agenda of President Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi who are destroying America,” she said, after gaining support 134-46 in a closed-door vote.
Her appointment was announced two days after Liz Cheney, a conservative daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, was removed from office over her criticism of Trump and her refusal to support unfounded allegations of fraud about the November election.
While some Republicans fear that if they don’t reject the former president’s rhetoric on voter fraud, the party could run into trouble at the polls, Stefanik, who came to Congress in 2015 as a moderate, made it clear that Trump and Trumpism will remain vital to the ranks. conservative.
About the former president, she said: “He is a fundamental part of our Republican team.”
“I support President Trump, the voters support President Trump,” she added. “He is an important voice in our Republican Party and we look forward to working with him.”
Trump, who with the appointment of Stefanik strengthened his handling of the Republican ranks, congratulated her on her “overwhelming victory.”
The party in the House “is united and the Make America Great Again movement is strong,” said the former president.
Stefanik’s rise was a turning point in a difficult week for Republicans.
On Thursday, after a meeting with Biden and top Congressional Democrats in the White House, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said: “I don’t think anyone is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election.”
The day earlier, during a hearing in the House of Representatives, Republicans tried to downplay the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by Trump supporters. Congressman Andrew Clyde said images of the uprising, in which five people were killed, appeared to show “a normal tourist visit.”
And in a sign that tensions continue, Trump congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, sanctioned by her colleagues for her statements in defense of conspiracy theories, confronted Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, raising security concerns in Congress.
The overthrown Cheney vowed to continue fighting for conservative principles, against a leader who defends “the big lie” of fraud.
“I don’t think I should lead the party,” Cheney said of Trump on Friday night on CNN news channel. “And it is very important that we Republicans defend the truth,” she added.
In the past, Stefanik has voted against Trump’s grand tax reform in 2017 and opposed several crucial decisions by the president, such as the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate agreement.
Asked whether there would be room in the party for Trump critics like Cheney or Adam Kinzinger, who voted to impeach Trump in January, Stefanik was conciliatory.
“They are part of this Republican conference,” she said, but added: “We are united in working with President Trump.”
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