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Stefanik privately pledges to serve only through 2022 in House GOP leadership

Rep. Elise Stefanik is only looking to serve one term in GOP leadership.

The New York Republican is telling her GOP colleagues that she intends to finish out the rest of this current cycle as conference chair if she is ultimately elevated to the No. 3 leadership position, according to multiple Republican lawmakers familiar with the conversations.

Then, in the new Congress, she intends to seek the top job on the House Education and Labor Committee, those sources said, a longtime priority for her.

Stefaik’s pledge to limit her time in GOP leadership is just one of several assurances she is making to other House Republicans as she works quickly to lock down support for her leadership bid. While she is widely expected to clinch the post after embattled Conference Chair Liz Cheney likely gets the boot next week, some lawmakers on the far-right have grumbled about her voting scorecard. Other members of the conference have complained they feel boxed in by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is whipping members hard to support Stefanik.

While other GOP members expressed interest in the position, so far none have formally stepped into the race to challenge Stefanik.

Stefanik, a moderate turned Trump ally, is also vowing to toe the party line and not buck leadership whenever they are whipping for or against something — a promise intended to assuage colleagues that she will not rock the boat like Cheney. The current No. 3 not only voted to impeach Donald Trump but also bucked the party a handful of other times on certain votes.

Her pledge of a limited time in leadership comes as some conservative House members have voiced concern about her more moderate record. On Wednesday, members of the House Freedom Caucus aired their grievances on a phone call. Those gripes include that she has a conservative scorecard of less than 50 percent and that McCarthy and others have quickly moved to install her into the position, giving the ultra-conservative caucus no room to express their preferences of who should lead GOP messaging ahead of 2022, POLITICO first reported.

Stefanik is also expected to speak before the Freedom Caucus on Monday as part of her effort to reach out to members who are hesitant — if not outright opposed — to her rise to the leadership post, according to sources.

But with Stefanik only vowing to fill out the rest of this term in leadership, it could assuage not only the conservative hard-liners, but other members who have complained about how speedy the Cheney replacement process has been. Several other Republicans have been floated for the conference chair position at some point, including Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), the vice conference chair.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), who is currently expected to introduce the resolution to oust Cheney from leadership, is term-limited out as the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, clearing the way for Stefanik to run for the top panel post next Congress. Stefanik is also a member of the high-profile House Intelligence Committee, where she propelled herself to GOP stardom during Trump’s first impeachment.

House Republicans will gather next Wednesday at 9 a.m. for their weekly conference meeting, where the vote on Cheney is expected to come up. A separate vote on her replacement would then need to take place, though the timing on that vote is still to be determined.

Stefanik’s meteoric rise goes hand in hand with the conference moving to oust Cheney as she doubled and tripled down on her views about the deadly Jan. 6 attack, arguing as her colleagues moved to shore up support for her replacement that the “2020 presidential election was not stolen.”

“Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system,” Cheney tweeted on Monday.

While Cheney is fighting to project her message of how the GOP needs to change course, she is not fighting to remain in leadership, aiding efforts by Republican leaders to put Stefanik in this position.

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