House Republicans were poised on Wednesday to purge Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming from their leadership ranks for her continued repudiation of former President Donald J. Trump’s election lies in a stunning rebuke from her own party.
The secret-ballot vote, which will take place during a closed-door meeting on Wednesday morning, is expected to remove Ms. Cheney as the chair of the House Republican Conference. Hours earlier, she delivered a defiant broadside against Mr. Trump and the party leaders working to oust her, accusing them of being complicit in undermining the democratic system.
In a scathing speech on the House floor, Ms. Cheney said that the country was facing a “never seen before” threat of a former president who provoked the Capitol attack on Jan. 6 and who had “resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him.”
“Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar,” she said. “I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”
Ms. Cheney’s last stand on Tuesday evening — and the chilly reception it received from House Republicans, who cleared from the chamber as she began her remarks — also highlighted how the leaders trying to oust her from the No. 3 post have tethered themselves to Mr. Trump as a matter of political survival.
Top Republicans have labored to avoid talking about the Capitol riot and have painted Ms. Cheney’s removal as a forward-looking purge that would allow them to move past that day.
“Each day spent relitigating the past is one day less we have to seize the future,” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, wrote in a letter to party members on Monday. “If we are to succeed in stopping the radical Democrat agenda from destroying our country, these internal conflicts need to be resolved so as to not detract from the efforts on our collective team.”
As a replacement for Ms. Cheney, Republican leaders have united behind Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, a onetime moderate whose fealty to Mr. Trump and backing for his false claims of election fraud have earned her broad support from the party’s rank and file that Ms. Cheney, a lifelong conservative, no longer commands. It is a remarkable arc for Ms. Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was once spoken of as a future House speaker but is now on the cusp of being relegated to the political wilderness.
She overwhelmingly put down an attempt in February to remove her from her post after voting to impeach Mr. Trump. At the time, Mr. McCarthy vouched for her and pointed to the vote as evidence that the Republican Party could accommodate both the former president and a leader who had moved to impeach him.
But frustration with Ms. Cheney grew as she continued to call out Mr. Trump’s claims, a message her colleagues said distracted from their efforts to retake the House majority in the 2022 midterms.
If Ms. Stefanik is elected this week to replace Ms. Cheney, as expected, the top three House Republican leadership posts will be held by lawmakers who voted not to certify President Biden’s victory in January.