WASHINGTON — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., on Saturday tried to distance herself from a document published by Punchbowl News that purportedly outlined the goals of a new “America First Caucus” being formed by Greene and other hard-right GOP lawmakers. The document had received blowback from Democrats and some Republicans for promoting nativist policies and perpetuating the falsehood that there was widespread fraud and corruption in the 2020 election.
On Saturday, Greene described the document as “a staff level draft proposal from an outside group” and claimed she had not read it. She blasted the media for “taking something out of context,” but did not specify to which policies in the document she objected.
However, Greene did not deny plans to start an “America First Caucus” and ended a lengthy Twitter thread by saying she supported former president Donald Trump’s “America First agenda.”
“America First policies will save this country for all of us, our children, and ultimately the world,” Greene tweeted. Trump’s “America First” agenda was characterized by a nationalist approach to issues such as immigration, trade and foreign policy. It was criticized by Democrats and some Republicans as sometimes backing xenophobic or racist policies.
Greene and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., are reportedly behind the new caucus, according to Punchbowl News. A spokeswoman for Rep. Barry Moore, R-Ala., told the Montgomery Advertiser Friday that the congressman had not yet joined the America First Caucus, disputing reports that he had signed on as an early member.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who faces federal and House Ethics Committee investigations over allegations of sexual misconduct and illicit drug use, tweeted Friday that he was joining Greene in the caucus.
“We will end wars, stop illegal immigration & promote trade that is fair to American workers,” said Gaetz, who has denied all allegations against him.
According to the seven-page document, the group says it seeks to advance Trump’s legacy, which means stepping “on some toes” and sacrificing “sacred cows for the good of the American nation.”
In a section on immigration, the document describes the United States as a place with “uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions” and argues that “societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to contribute positively to the country.”
Early Saturday morning, Greene spokesman Nick Dyer wrote, “Nothing that was released today was approved by Congresswoman Greene whatsoever.” Her office has maintained that the document was simply a proposal.
Gosar’s office did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Friday seemed to oppose the formation of the caucus, though he did not call it or its members out by name.
“America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn’t built on identity, race, or religion,” McCarthy tweeted. “The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans — not nativist dog whistles.”
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-highest-ranking Republican leader in the House, and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of Trump’s most vocal critics within the GOP, also denounced what the caucus stood for.
“Republicans believe in equal opportunity, freedom, and justice for all. We teach our children the values of tolerance, decency and moral courage,” Cheney tweeted. “Racism, nativism, and anti-Semitism are evil. History teaches we all have an obligation to confront & reject such malicious hate.”
Kinzinger called for anyone who joined the caucus to be stripped of their committee assignments in Congress. The House has already voted, mostly along partisan lines, to strip Greene of her assignments.
While the language used in the document and its overtly nativist tone was condemned by some GOP leaders, some of the policies and ideas it contained are embraced by many in the party, including a restrictive immigration policy, cutting foreign aid and the unfounded allegations of widespread voter fraud.
The language used in the “America First Caucus” document indicates just how comfortable some Republicans are openly expressing extreme positions in stark terms. The document calls to suspend all immigration, saying such pauses are “absolutely essential in assimilating the new arrivals and weeding out those who could not or refused to abandon their old loyalties and plunge head-first into mainstream American society.”
On infrastructure, the caucus calls for the construction of roads, bridges and buildings that reflect “the architectural, engineering and aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture, whereby public infrastructure must be utilitarian as well as stunningly, classically beautiful, befitting a world power and source of freedom.”
The caucus also criticizes U.S. foreign aid, blasts coronavirus restrictions as an overreaction, and suggests the country’s education system “is actively hostile to the civic and cultural assimilation necessary for a strong nation.”
Reports of the caucus and its stated goals also drew condemnation from numerous Democrats, who blasted Greene and Gosar for promoting dangerous and “blatantly racist” ideas rooted in White supremacy.
“As an immigrant, I served on active duty in the US military to defend your right to say stupid stuff. What makes America great is that we don’t judge you based on bloodline, we look at your character,” Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., tweeted.
Lieu said they could take their nativist rhetoric and “shove it.”