Every Republican Senator to Condemn Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger Censure

Several Republican senators have criticized the Republican National Committee (RNC) for voting to censure Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger on Friday.

Some prominent members of the Senate GOP took aim at the decision in comments over the past few days and suggested it wasn't a way to unify the Republican Party.

The criticism comes in a crucial midterm election year, in which Republicans are hoping to take back the Senate and the House of Representatives, and as the House Select Committee's investigation of the events of January 6, 2021, is ongoing.

The RNC's resolution also faced significant criticism for using the phrase "legitimate political discourse" to describe the events of January 6.

Lisa Murkowski

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) tweeted on Saturday after the censure had passed that describing January 6 as "legitimate political discourse" was "just wrong."

Murkowski told CNN on Sunday that she represented the people of Alaska and was "not here to be a representative of the Republican Party."

"When there is a conflict, when the party is taking an approach or saying things that I think are just absolutely wrong, I think it's my responsibility as an Alaskan Senator, speaking out for Alaskans, to just speak the truth," Murkowski said.

"The easier thing to do is just go along to get along, or just keep your mouth shut. But you know what, that's not why we're here," she said.

Mitt Romney

Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) said he had "exchanged some texts" on the issue with his niece, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

Romney said the censure "could not have been a more inappropriate message."

"One, to sanction two people of character as they did," the senator said. "But number two, to suggest that a violent attack on the seat of democracy is legitimate political discourse is so far from accurate as to shock and make people wonder what we're thinking."

Romney also suggested the move could affect Republicans' chances in the midterms, saying: "Anything that my party does that comes across as being stupid is not going to help us."

John Cornyn

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) noted that the RNC's resolution mentioned a desire for Republicans to be unified, but "that was not a unifying action."

Cornyn also said the RNC "did say in their resolution that the job was to win elections. I agree with that. But then they go on to engage in actions that make that more challenging."

"I don't think you can kick out of the party everybody you disagree with. Or it's going to be a minority party," he said.

Shelley Moore Capito

Senator Shelley Moore Capito said: "We've got a lot of issues that we should be focusing on besides censuring two members of Congress because they have a different opinion."

"I thought: Free speech for everybody," said Capito, who serves on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's leadership team.

McConnell is expected to address the issue during his press conference on Tuesday.

Joni Ernst

Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), who is also part of the GOP leadership, appeared to criticize the RNC's decision to censure Cheney and Kinzinger.

"I wish they wouldn't. I would leave it up to the states," Ernst said.

Lindsey Graham

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he had spoken to McDaniel about the matter and said the party's focus should be on the midterm elections.

"I think all of us up here want to talk about forward and not backward," Graham said. "We want to talk about why we should be in charge of the House and the Senate, and when you're not talking about that, that takes you in the wrong direction."

Susan Collins

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) issued a statement on Monday saying those "who assaulted police officers, broke windows and breached the Capitol were not engaged in legitimate political discourse, and to say otherwise is absurd."

Collins said the Republican party had started the year with an advantage in the upcoming elections.

"But every moment that is spent re-litigating a lost election or defending those who have been convicted of criminal behavior moves us further away from the goal of victory this fall," Collins said.

Composite Image Shows Cheney and Kinzinger
A composite photo shows Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Several Republican senators have criticized the RNC for censuring Cheney and Kinzinger. Getty Images

Kevin Cramer

Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), a former member of the House, described the RNC as "out of their league, quite honestly."

"I mean the beauty of the people's House is it is the people's House. Every one of them have two-year terms and roughly the same number of constituents, and any discipline for the most part belongs with the people who elect them," he said.

Roy Blunt

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) simply told CNN on Monday: "I think the RNC should be focused on electing Republicans."

In a statement to Newsweek on Tuesday, RNC Chairwoman McDaniel said: "Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger crossed a line. They chose to join Nancy Pelosi in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol."

"That's why Republican National Committee members and myself overwhelmingly support this resolution," the statement said.

Newsweek has asked the RNC for further comment.

Correction 2:45 a.m. 2/9/22: This article originally listed Susan Collins as a Senator for Minnesota. Collins is a Senator for Maine. Newsweek regrets the error.