We don't know exactly how things will go down at Wednesday's closed-door, secret-ballot House Republican Conference meeting. But we expect rank-and-file Republicans to vote late morning or midday to boot GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., from her leadership post.
The meeting begins at 9 a.m. ET.
But there are two wild cards.
Fox News is told the House Republican Conference probably won't move right away to install Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., as Cheney's successor. Expect a candidate's forum for those interested in the job Thursday and another vote on the leadership slot Friday.
"I think it will be a few days," said one senior House Republican leadership source.
But Fox News is told Stefanik shouldn't have a problem eventually becoming the conference chairwoman.
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, and other Freedom Caucus members are making noise about whether Stefanik is in fact conservative enough. It's possible the GOP could leave the seat vacant through the end of the week – or even longer – if enough Republicans aren’t ready to vote in Stefanik as Cheney’s replacement. Moreover, this could all go sideways because of the first meeting President Biden is slated to have with the bicameral, bipartisan congressional leaders. That meeting is slated for late morning. The GOP Conference meeting about Cheney and Stefanik could run headlong into the White House session. That causes another headache for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
But Fox is told the vote to remove Cheney "should be straightforward."
Here is the "by the book" process:
Members can present a petition or resolution to remove Cheney. It must be signed by 50 members. By rule, two-thirds of the conference needs to call for an immediate vote on the resolution. Otherwise, the conference might move the issue to the Steering Committee, which decides committee assignments, et al. The Steering Committee would have to then decide whether to move the issue to remove Cheney to a conference vote. The vote would likely be conducted via secret ballot.
It takes a simple majority to remove Cheney.
That said, House Republican Conference rules give McCarthy great latitude. The rules allow him to make a motion on his own. And McCarthy is clearly willing to ditch Cheney.
In February, only one member signed the petition to get rid of Cheney: Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C. Cheney said she wanted a vote. It was McCarthy who moved the vote of no confidence right away. Cheney prevailed in that vote, 145-61.
Fox has spoken with multiple House Republicans, both rank and file, and in leadership, who believe that McCarthy is moving too fast. Fox is told that McCarthy would like to wrap this up quickly. But he is getting an earful from some Republicans who would prefer to take their time in selecting a successor to Cheney – even if McCarthy handpicked Stefanik and cleared the field. That’s to say nothing of the endorsement of Stefanik by former President Trump.
Remember, McCarthy is trying to thread the needle here – especially if he wants to be speaker in 2023 if Republicans win the House. Some Republicans Fox News spoke with indicate that McCarthy erred in moving too decisively with Stefanik.
Also, here is the worst-kept secret in the Capitol: Yes. Lots of Republicans don’t appreciate what Cheney has said about Trump, the election and the Jan. 6 riot. But frankly, here is one of the key reasons Republicans are ready to abandon Cheney now:
"No one actually likes her," said one Republican. "No one is there to defend her."