Live Updates: Top Republicans Move to Oust Cheney From House Leadership

House Republican leaders moved quickly on Wednesday to expel Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming from her leadership post for criticizing Donald J. Trump and his election lies, as their No. 2, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, publicly backed ousting her and the top leader privately lobbied for a replacement.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Mr. Scalise said he supported Representative Elise Stefanik, the New York Republican who has emerged as the leading contender to replace Ms. Cheney as Republican Conference chair, the No. 3 leadership position. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, was less public, but lawmakers said he was pushing colleagues privately to support Ms. Stefanik, a close ally.

“House Republicans need to be solely focused on taking back the House in 2022 and fighting against Speaker Pelosi and President Biden’s radical socialist agenda,” said Lauren Fine, Mr. Scalise’s spokeswoman. “Elise Stefanik is strongly committed to doing that, which is why Whip Scalise has pledged to support her for conference chair.”

It was a remarkable show of force by the party’s top two leaders to run out a once-popular figure now deemed unacceptable by fellow Republicans because she has rejected Mr. Trump’s lies and refused to absolve him or the party of its role in perpetuating the false claims of a fraudulent election that fueled the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Ms. Stefanik, 36, whose voting record is far less conservative than Ms. Cheney’s, became a vocal supporter of Mr. Trump in recent years, playing a prominent role defending him during his first impeachment trial and voting in January to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which he lost.

The bid by top party leaders to install her as a replacement increased the likelihood that Republicans would move as early as next Wednesday to replace Ms. Cheney.

Her fate has once again become a bellwether for the direction of the Republican Party, with implications for its chances of wresting control of the House in 2022, and a test of whether loyalty to Trump and a tolerance for misinformation have overtaken conservatism as its guiding orthodoxy.

Jeremy Adler, a spokesman for Ms. Cheney, signaled Wednesday morning that she was gearing up for a messy fight whose significance would reach far beyond a narrow personnel question.

“Liz will have more to say in the coming days,” he said. “This moment is about much more than a House leadership fight.”

Ms. Stefanik once styled herself as an establishment Republican in a similar vein to Ms. Cheney. She worked in former President George W. Bush’s administration and for former House Speaker Paul Ryan when he was the 2012 vice-presidential nominee, before becoming the youngest woman elected to the House. But as Mr. Trump ascended, she quickly refashioned herself as one of his most strident loyalists.

Mr. Scalise’s endorsement comes as Ms. Stefanik and her allies have ramped up their efforts to win support. In recent days, she has quietly reached out to Republicans to gauge their interest in supporting her for the No. 3 position, according to people familiar with the private discussions, and lawmakers close to her have begun to publicly express confidence that she will win the leadership spot.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Four weeks before its scheduled end, the federal government’s signature aid effort for small business ravaged by the pandemic — the Paycheck Protection Program — ran out of funding on Tuesday afternoon and stopped accepting most new applications.

Congress allocated $292 billion to fund the program’s most recent round of loans. Nearly all of that money has now been exhausted, the Small Business Administration, which runs the program, told lenders and their trade groups on Tuesday. (An earlier version of this item misstated that the actions it described occurred Wednesday.)

While many had predicted that the program would run out of funds before its May 31 application deadline, the exact timing came as a surprise to many lenders.

“It is our understanding that lenders are now getting a message through the portal that loans cannot be originated,” the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, a trade group, wrote in an alert to its members Tuesday evening. “The P.P.P. general fund is closed to new applications.”

Some money — around $8 billion — is still available through a set-aside for community financial institutions, which generally focus on lending to businesses run by women, minorities and other underserved communities. Those lenders will be allowed to process applications until that money runs out, according to the trade group’s alert.

Representatives from the Small Business Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some money also remains available for lenders to finish processing pending applications, according to a lender who was on a call with S.B.A. officials on Tuesday.

Since its creation last year, the Paycheck Protection Program has disbursed $780 billion in forgivable loans to fund 10.7 million applications, according to the latest government data. Congress renewed the program in December’s relief bill, expanding the pool of eligible applicants and allowing the hardest-hit businesses to return for a second loan.

Lawmakers in March extended the program’s deadline to May, but they have shown little enthusiasm for adding significantly more money to its coffers. With vaccination rates increasing and pandemic restrictions easing, Congress’s focus on large-scale relief effort for small businesses has waned.

The government’s recent efforts have been focused on the most devastated industries. Two new grant programs run by the Small Business Administration — for businesses in the live-events and restaurant industries — began accepting applications in recent weeks, though no grants have yet been awarded.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A Facebook-appointed panel of journalists, activists and lawyers ruled on Wednesday to uphold the social network’s ban of former President Donald J. Trump, ending any immediate return by Mr. Trump to mainstream social media and renewing a debate about tech power over online speech.

Facebook’s Oversight Board, which acts as a quasi-court to deliberate the company’s content decisions, said the social network was right to bar Mr. Trump after he used the site to foment an insurrection in Washington in January, Mike Isaac reports for The New York Times. The panel said the ongoing risk of violence “justified” the suspension.

But the board also said that Facebook’s penalty of an indefinite suspension was “not appropriate,” and that the company should apply a “defined penalty.” The board gave Facebook six months to determine its final decision on Mr. Trump’s account status.

The board is a panel of about 20 former political leaders, human rights activists and journalists picked by Facebook to deliberate the company’s content decisions, explains Cecilia Kang of The Times. It began a year ago and is based in London.

The idea for the board was for the public to have a way to appeal decisions by Facebook to remove content that violates its policies against harmful and hateful posts. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s C.E.O., has said neither he nor the company wanted to have the final decision on speech.

The company and paid members of the panel stress that the board is independent. But Facebook funds the board with a $130 million trust and top executives played a big role in its formation.

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