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New Congress House

Rep. Liz Cheney, right, speaks during a Nov. 14 news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington following a meeting for the House Republican leadership elections. Cheney, who is standing with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., left, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., center, was voted in as conference chair.

Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney gave the Republican Party’s first speech on the floor of the 116th Congress on Thursday, in effect setting the tone for her party in the lower house for the coming two years.

Evoking ghosts of both the distant and recent history of the nation’s greatest deliberative body, Cheney took to the speaker’s rostrum on Thursday afternoon to name former House Majority Leader, Republican Kevin McCarthy, R-California, as the new minority’s nominee for Speaker of the House.

Despite a relative revolt within the Democratic Party among newly elected members of Congress following the midterm elections, Democrat Nancy Pelosi was still named Speaker of the House, despite the defection of several members of her party.

Without the votes to secure a Republican’s election to lead the House of Representatives, Cheney’s speech was largely ceremonial, meant to recognize a member of the new minority who embodied the ethic of the entire party.

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“Leader McCarthy will always look for ways to work with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle whenever we can, but he will never compromise on our fundamental rights and freedoms,” said Cheney. “Leader McCarthy knows our rights come from God. They are enshrined in our Constitution. He knows government is not the source of our liberty; rather, it is instituted among men and women to secure our liberty.”

But it was also an opportunity for Cheney – who now stands as the third-ranking member within the Republican Party as its conference chair – to establish a tone for the GOP as it prepares for the coming two years in the backseat, as Democrats assume their control of the House. She did so by highlighting a number of Republican accomplishments – tax cuts unparalleled since the days of Ronald Reagan and a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act – and decried a Democratic Party she hinted could lead the United States down the path of socialism.

“No one has been a greater champion to ensure our government is limited, exercising their constitutional obligation to defend our rights and resisting the urge our colleagues from the other side of the aisle constantly seek to fulfill of empowering federal bureaucrats to tell us how to live,” she said of McCarthy.

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Politics Reporter

Nick Reynolds covers state politics and policy. A native of Central New York, he has spent his career covering governments big and small, and several Congressional campaigns. He graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport in 2015.

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