House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Sunday signaled he is backing Rep. Elise Stefanik for the No. 3 job in the conference's leadership, replacing Rep. Liz Cheney amid a heightened debate over the party's direction.
"Everyone in leadership serves at the pleasure of the conference," McCarthy said in an interview on Fox News.
Asked if he supports Stefanik, a North Country Republican to replace Cheney, McCarthy said, "Yes, I do."
The House Republican conference is expected to vote in the coming days over whether Cheney should remain the House conference chair. Cheney has emerged as a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump and the false claims of a stolen election last year. Cheney was among a handful of Republican House lawmakers to support Trump's impeachment earlier this year following a riot at the U.S. Capitol.
McCarthy's backing of Stefanik follows the support she has received from other prominent Republicans in the House Republican conference, including Rep. Steve Scalise, the second-ranking lawmaker.
McCarthy in recent days has called for unity among the conference, and has criticized Cheney for not presenting a united front that could hurt the party's chances of recapturing the majority after next year's midterm elections. Stefanik has emerged as a vocal supporter of the former president.
Stefanik's re-election campaign on Sunday touted the backing she received from Scalise in an email fundraiser.
"We need a Chair who will fight tirelessly to expose the Democrats’ agenda, stop it, and DEFEAT them at the ballot box," the fundraising email states. "That’s exactly what I’ve been doing... I WILL NOT let up in the fight to take back the House on November 8, 2022!"