After removing Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming from her congressional leadership post, U.S. House Republicans are now expected to vote on installing a new conference chair on Friday. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Austin, might be in the running.
The Daily Caller first reported that Roy is considering a bid to challenge Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who has been openly campaigning for the post. The political newsletter Punchbowl News later confirmed the news.
"While not ruling anything out, Congressman Roy has never sought a position in conference leadership. His focus is on serving Texas' 21st Congressional district, the American people, and the Constitution. But if the position must be filled, then this must be a contested race — not a coronation," Roy's office said in a statement.
Elected in 2018, Roy has sided with pro-Trump positions nearly 90% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. Cheney ascended to the Republican conference chair position as a sophomore herself in 2019 after first being elected in 2016.
But Roy has proven more willing to question Trump than some of his Republican colleagues in the Texas delegation, like Rep. Ronny Jackson of Amarillo, who tweeted about voting against Cheney and tacked on a "#MAGA" hashtag at the end of his tweet.
When Trump faced his second impeachment, Roy said Trump "deserves universal condemnation for what was clearly impeachable conduct — pressuring the vice president to violate his oath to the Constitution to count the electors." Even so, Roy voted against Trump's second impeachment, unlike Cheney, basing his decision on the kind of precedent he thought it would set for political speech.
Stefanik has become a serious contender for the third highest spot in Republican House leadership, mainly for being a staunch supporter of the former president. She has won the endorsement of Trump himself as well as support from GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy of California. But Roy and some other Republicans have raised concern about her voting record, which is more moderate than Cheney's.
Roy penned a memo to Republican colleagues Wednesday, not only lambasting Cheney, but also opposing Stefanik's campaign to become the new GOP conference chair, accusing the upstate New York Republican of campaigning as a Republican but "then vote for and advance the Democrats' agenda once sworn in."
"Therefore, with all due respect to my friend, Elise Stefanik, let us contemplate the message Republican leadership is about to send by rushing to coronate a spokesperson whose voting record embodies much of what led to the 2018 ass-kicking we received by Democrats," Roy said.
According to CNN, Stefanik is expected to participate in a forum Wednesday evening organized by the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus where she'll face a slew of questions about her voting record and her plans if she helms the GOP conference.
Amid the turbulence about Cheney's future in the House Republican conference, Roy's campaign sent fundraising emails to bank on the drama, stating that "he was the FIRST to call Cheney out on her anti-Trump and self-serving hysterics," and that "his bold leadership will hopefully lead to a big change."
Patrick Svitek contributed reporting.
Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Wednesday refused to meet with a Capitol Police officer who wanted to talk to him about the attack on Jan. 6.
"I just spoke with a very upset Officer Michael Fanone. It's #PoliceWeek and for weeks Ofc," tweeted Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA). "Fanone has made multiple requests to talk to @GOPLeader. He wants to show McCarthy what he experienced on 1/6. Today he was hung up on by McCarthy's staff. RT if Kevin should meet a hero."
I just spoke with a very upset Officer Michael Fanone. It’s #PoliceWeek and for weeks Ofc. Fanone has made multiple… https://t.co/uqE6z59kdT— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@Rep. Eric Swalwell) 1620848218.0
Michael Fanone was the Capitol Police officer who had a heart attack and concussion during the attack. In a conversation with CNN host Don Lemon, Fanone said that he has suffered serious post-traumatic stress disorder and thought that during the attack he was about to die.
Motorists frantically stocking up on gasoline caused more gas stations on the US east coast to close Wednesday, as the government rushed to free up supplies days after the country's main fuel pipeline was shut down by a cyber attack.
A dozen states ranging from Florida to Virginia declared a state of emergency, heightening the sense of panic among consumers who flocked to gas stations bearing fuel cans and even plastic trash bags to fill up.
A ransomware attack Friday on Colonial Pipeline forced the company to shut down its entire network, and it is not expected to be back online until the end of the week.
The company operates the largest US fuel conduit system in the United States, which sends gasoline and jet fuel from the Gulf Coast of Texas to the populous east coast through 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) of ducts that serve 50 million consumers.
The company said it is manually delivering fuel through some lateral lines, prioritizing delivery to areas least able to find alternative supplies.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday urged Americans to remain calm.
"We recognize the concern that is out there, and that's why we haven't wasted any time to get into action," he told reporters at the White House. "Hoarding does not make things better."
The Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have eased regulations on transporting fuel and temporarily waived clean air rules throughout the affected states to try to ease the supply crunch.
But panic buying was causing thousands of stations to run dry, according to gas price tracking site GasBuddy -- which itself was crashing under the volume of new users.
"It's crazy, but we got to deal with it," a customer who gave her name as Vanita told AFP as she filled up her car in Raleigh, North Carolina on Tuesday.
- Don't use trash bags -
Those few stations with fuel available on Wednesday saw long lines of cars waiting to fill up.
In Florida, 73 percent of stations in the Pensacola area were out of fuel, according to GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan.
In North Carolina's Raleigh-Durham area, seven out of 10 stations ran out of gas, as did six in 10 around Georgia's capital, Atlanta.
About 45 percent of stations in Virginia were empty and gasoline was also starting to become scarce in Washington DC, where 8 percent of stations had run out, according GasBuddy data.
"The public perception is: if it's so bad a situation that our governors have to declare a state of emergency, it must be really bad and I need to go fill up," said Andy Lipow, of consulting firm of Lipow Oil Associates.
"As a result we've seen demand at the service stations two and three times the normal which exacerbates the situation," he said.
US average gasoline prices rose to close to $3 a gallon for the first time since November 2014, according to the American Automobile Association.
And as shortages become more widespread, "Unfortunately it's going to get worse before it gets better," Lipow said.
Supplies are running low and Colonial Pipeline's competitor Plantation Pipeline has about one-third of the capacity.
Amid the panic, pictures emerged on social media of motorists filling buckets and even trash bags with gasoline and loading them into their cars.
Buttigieg joined the US Consumer Product Safety Commission in urging drivers to use caution.
"Now is the time to be safe and sensible," Buttigieg said, adding that "under no circumstances should gasoline ever be put into anything but a vehicle directly or an approved container."
CSPC on Twitter warn of potential "deadly consequences."
"Do not fill plastic bags with gasoline. We know this sounds simple, but when people get desperate they stop thinking clearly," the agency said.
© 2021 AFP
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