The path to keeping two top Republican women in their current positions may be smooth: Foxx has told colleagues that Stefanek is assuring her of her support for another term as the top GOP, according to several people familiar with the dynamics. While many in the party were skeptical that Stefanek would honor her pledge at first — it is common for members of both parties to break promises of term limits once in office or in another coveted Hill role — Fox’s early bid raises questions among House Republicans. About the cabinet change in leadership that could result if they demand a majority next year.
“Most members are assuming Elise will not run again” for the convention presidency, said one Republican in education and labor, who spoke frankly on the condition of anonymity. But this member then cautioned: “You know, most politicians never stick to term-limiting pledges.”
Then again, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy would open a can of worms if he gave Foxx a concession to remain on the committee, allowing himself to be drowned out by other Republicans seeking permission to keep their strong seats on the committee. That’s why some Republicans have indicated they don’t view Foxx’s pursuit of an exemption as likely to pay off.
Stefanek declined to discuss her future course when asked ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, saying she was focused on the then-coming vote on the Democrats’ social spending plan. Foxx declined to comment on discussions with the leadership for a waiver. Her office declined to comment when asked about Foxx telling other members that Stefanek would not challenge her for the party’s lead in education and work.
When asked if Stefanik supports Foxx’s offer, spokesperson Stefanik Ali Black widely said the New Yorker is focused on regaining the majority and “doing its best at the job you have today — not the next session.”
McCarthy spokesman Mark Bednar did not consider Fox trying to get a waiver. But in a statement, Bednar noted that the GOP’s directive members, who oversee the appointment of committee positions, “were not even elected to the next Congress.”
Many Republican members believe Stefanik could choose to pursue a new term as convention chairman in a future Republican majority or jump into another leadership race. Some colleagues think she is interested in entering a more crowded race to whip the majority in 2023.
There is a long list of contenders for this vote-counting position, if the Republican Party can take advantage of midterm advantages thanks to historical trends and redistricting — and if McCarthy follows that victory by ascending to the speaker, which is likely. But not completely sure.
A McCarthy speaker would currently put Minority Whip Steve Scalise on the right track to transition to House Majority Leader. Among the potential contenders to step up the whip at this event are several current senior or leadership positions, including Representatives Patrick McHenry (RN.C), Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), Mike Johnson (R-La.), Rep. Jim Banks (Republic-End.), and Richard Hudson (N.C. Republic).
Stefanek was voted third in leadership in May, after House Republicans decided it was unacceptable for Cheney to continue serving as the Republican messaging chief during a photoshoot at Trump on Jan. 6 and in other cases she said she wasn’t doing enough to stand up. Trump, including McCarthy.
The breaking point Between McCarthy and Cheney came during the GOP retreat in Florida earlier this year. The feud between them was revealed when McCarthy shot his then lieutenant, in an interview with Politico and then into a room full of reporters. Discussions about finding a replacement for Cheney began after that withdrawal, with Stefanek emerging as McCarthy’s favorite.
The Republican Party leader and other Stefanek allies began a vigorous flogging campaign to persuade members to support her as an alternative to Cheney, who was not trying to fight a second and ultimately successful overthrow. In addition to Stefanik’s pledge of one term, the 37-year-old has also pledged to side with the leadership in the votes in which the Congress endorses a position – reassurances that followed various Cheney voices challenging the party leadership’s position.
At the time, House Republicans were well aware of the need to replace Cheney with a woman, thus keeping their leadership list from becoming all-male. Prior to Stefanik’s rise, Fox was tapped to advance the decision to oust Cheney.
If Fox and Stefanek ultimately remain in their current roles, many Republicans believe McCarthy would be happy to see the latter woman remain in the lead. Stefanik, a moderate turned Trump advocate during his first impeachment trial, has stayed on to the conference and at times even surprised her institutional colleagues by appearing to have moved to the right of the party’s center of gravity.
But using the relinquishment process to lock Foxx in her position would pose a challenge to the practice of long-running conferences. House Republican rules determine members for six consecutive years to serve in a higher position on the committee, regardless of whether the party is in the minority or the majority. Rare exceptions to this rule include the abdication of former Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) to remain at the helm of the House Budget Committee in 2012, shortly after his bid for vice president ended unsuccessfully.
While some Education and Labor members declined to discuss their private conversations with Foxx, some on the committee were quick to make notable statements of support for her.
Rep. Madison Cawthorne (RN) said, “And [I] I would love to work with her as president.”