There won’t be an America First Caucus after all. At least for now. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene accused the media of making a big deal about something that wasn’t even a reality yet and aides said she wasn’t starting any new group. “The Congresswoman wants to make clear that she is not launching anything. This was an early planning proposal and nothing was agreed to or approved,” Nick Dyer, Greene’s spokesperson, said. Greene also sent a series of tweets Saturday claiming the document that outlined the platform for the caucus was “from an outside group that I hadn’t read.” She also accused the media of focusing “on race” and using it “divide the American people with hate through identity politics.” But the words marked quite a change from a day earlier, when Dyer had said that the caucus would be launched “very soon.”
The apparent backtracking came as Washington was in an uproar this weekend over reports that far-right Republicans in the House of Representatives, including Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar, were seeking to set up an America First Caucus that would push a nativist agenda. The group would call for respecting “Anglo-Saxon political traditions,” according to an early draft of the group’s policy platform that was first reported by Punchbowl News. The platform warned that “mass immigration” threatened “the long-term existential future of America as a unique country with a unique culture and a unique identity.”
The draft platform of the group, which vowed to “follow in President Trump’s footsteps,” ws filled with nativist language. “History has shown 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,” reads the document.
The group was still in planning stages and the document was supposed to be the starting off point for a discussion and nothing has been finalized, a source told Politico. Still, the mere reports of the caucus immediately led to outrage, including by some Republicans, amid claims that the group amounts to the latest example of how some lawmakers are embracing racism as an electoral strategy. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent a thinly veiled tweet that didn’t mention any names but left no doubt about what he was referring to. “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.” An aide to McCarthy confirmed to the Associated Press that he was referring to the new group.
House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney also sent a thinly veiled message against the caucus. “Racism, nativism, and anti-Semitism are evil,” she tweeted. “History teaches we all have an obligation to confront & reject such malicious hate.” Cheney has openly talked about how Republicans need to reject white supremacists from their ranks and the criticism from party leaders comes as the party is struggling to find a way forward after Trump.
Several other Republicans also spoke up against the new caucus, including Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who said that anyone who join should be punished by the GOP leadership. “I believe anyone that joins this caucus should have their committees stripped, and the Republican conference should expel them from conference participation,” Kinzinger tweeted. “While we can’t prevent someone from calling themselves Republican, we can loudly say they don’t belong to us.” Rep. Ken Buck tweeted that “the hatefulness” expressed in the document “is only surpassed by its ignorance of American history and values.”
Amid the criticism, at least two Republicans publicly said they’d consider joining the new caucus. Rep. Matt Gaetz said he would be “proud” to be a member of the group that “will end wars, stop illegal immigration & promote trade that is fair to American workers.” Rep. Louie Gohmert told reporters he’s considering joining. Gohmert said the caucus seeks “to get our own country in order” and insisted “it’s not supposed to be about race at all.”
*This post has been updated with new information since it was first published.