'America First Caucus' Plans Scrapped After GOP Leaders Push Back
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. (Susan Walsh/AP)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Saturday, 17 April 2021 05:37 PM
Plans for a conservative "America First Caucus" have been scrapped following blowback from leadership within the Republican Party, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney.
Nick Dyer, spokesperson for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who was reportedly setting up the caucus, along with Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., told CNN in an email Saturday afternoon that the congresswoman is not "launching anything."
"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," Dyer said, adding that "she didn't approve that language and has no plans to launch anything."
Greene, in a follow-up statement, distanced herself even further from the platform after considerable backlash, calling it a “staff-level draft proposal from an outside group that I hadn’t read,” adding that she “plans to drive President Trump’s America First agenda with my Congressional colleagues.”
Friday night's news about the caucus, reported by the congressional newsletter Punchbowl News, featured a seven-page document that appeared to be the platform for an America First Caucus.
Key House Republicans, including McCarthy and Cheney, strongly condemned the plans, and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., called on Republicans to kick out any conference member joining the group and to strip away their committee assignments.
"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, R-Calif., tweeted in response to the news. "The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans—not nativist dog whistles."
Cheney, R-Wyo., posted on Twitter that "Republicans believe in equal opportunity, freedom, and justice for all. We teach our children the values of tolerance, decency and moral courage. Racism, nativism, and anti-Semitism are evil. History teaches we all have an obligation to confront & reject such malicious hate."
Kinzinger, R-Ill., tweeted that the GOP should denounce anyone joining the caucus.
"I believe anyone that joins this caucus should have their committees stripped, and the Republican conference should expel them from conference participation," he said. "While we can’t prevent someone from calling themselves Republican, we can loudly say they don’t belong to us.
It was quickly slammed by several key members of the House Freedom Caucus, to which Kosar and Green also belong, reports Forbes, quoting a source with knowledge of the group's discussions who said other members of the strongly conservative existing caucus met the news with "fury."
"The hatefulness of this statement is only surpassed by its ignorance of American history and values," Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said, posting a copy of the Punchbowl News report that said the new group would promote "Anglo-Saxon political traditions" and that it would return to a style that would "benefit the progeny of European architecture.
Buck's spokesperson, Lindsey Curnutte told Forbes the lawmaker had no plans to join the now-scrapped new caucus.
Several other Freedom Caucus members that Punchbowl had initially reported had agreed to join the new caucus, including Reps. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Barry Moore, R-Ala., told Forbes they hadn't yet decided to join the group.
Democrats also widely panned the America First Caucus announcement, with Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif, commenting that the supporters should "take your nativist crap and shove it" and Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., tweeting that the plans were "blatantly racist."
"As an immigrant, I served on active duty in the US military to defend your right to say stupid stuff," Lieu said. "What makes America great is that we don’t judge you based on bloodline, we look at your character."