WASHINGTON - Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene aggressively confronted Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday and falsely accused her of supporting “terrorists,” leading the New York congresswoman’s office to call on leadership to ensure that Congress remains “a safe, civil place for all Members and staff.”
Two Washington Post reporters witnessed Ocasio-Cortez of New York exit the House chamber late Wednesday afternoon ahead of Greene of Georgia, who shouted "Hey Alexandria" twice in an effort to get her attention. When Ocasio-Cortez did not stop walking, Greene picked up her pace and began shouting at her and asking why she supports antifa, a loosely knit group of far-left activists, and Black Lives Matter, falsely labeling them "terrorist" groups. Greene also shouted that Ocasio-Cortez was failing to defend her "radical socialist" beliefs by declining to publicly debate the freshman from Georgia.
"You don't care about the American people," Greene shouted. "Why do you support terrorists and antifa?"
Ocasio-Cortez did not stop to answer Greene, only turning around once and throwing her hands in the air in an exasperated motion. The two reporters were not close enough to hear what the New York congresswoman said, and her office declined to discuss her specific response.
"Representative Greene tried to begin an argument with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and when Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tried to walk away, Congresswoman Greene began screaming and called Rep. Ocasio-Cortez a terrorist sympathizer," Ocasio-Cortez spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said in a statement. "We hope leadership and the Sergeant at Arms will take real steps to make Congress a safe, civil place for all Members and staff - especially as many offices are discussing reopening. One Member has already been forced to relocate her office due to Congresswoman Greene's attacks."
Before walking away, Greene said that the encounter was intended to hold Democrats accountable for their policy proposals.
"She's a chicken, she doesn't want to debate the Green New Deal," she said to a small group of reporters and onlookers near the entrance to the chamber. "These members are cowards. They need to defend their legislation to the people. That's pathetic."
Greene has been a controversial figure since her 2020 campaign, and Democrats voted to strip her of her committee assignments earlier this year because of extremist statements. Greene has made a number of incendiary and false statements in recent years, among them that Black people "are held slaves to the Democratic Party," that Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. - the first two Muslim women elected to Congress - represented "an Islamic invasion into our government offices," and that Jewish megadonor George Soros collaborated with Nazis.
She has also expressed support for the radical ideology of QAnon, a sprawling set of false claims that have coalesced into an extremist ideology that has radicalized its followers, some of whom participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Her behavior toward Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday was similar to her effort to confront young gun-control activist David Hogg - who survived the 2018 mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school - as he walked around the Capitol grounds amid a lobbying push in 2019 for new gun laws. Greene shot cellphone video of the incident.
Greene has also been an outspoken defender of former president Donald Trump and his false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Earlier Wednesday, House Republicans voted to remove Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., from her leadership position for repeatedly speaking out against Trump's falsehoods, saying she had become a distraction from the party's efforts to win back the House in the 2022 midterm elections.
This is not the first confrontation Greene has had with a Democratic member of Congress that has caused them to raise safety concerns.
Earlier this year Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., accused Greene and her staff for accosting her in a tunnel beneath a House office building after she asked Greene to wear a mask "out of concern for the health of my staff, other members of Congress, and their congressional staff." Greene denied the allegation and accused Bush of "lying" and of leading a "terrorist mob" because Bush supported Black Lives Matter.
The incident prompted Bush to ask Democratic leadership if she could move her office away from Greene at a time when the Georgia congresswoman was already under heavy scrutiny for her rhetoric and behavior.
In February, Greene also got into a confrontation with the office of a neighboring congresswoman over transgender rights. After Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill., hung a transgender pride flag outside her office in honor of her transgender daughter to push back against Greene's opposition to legislation that would extend civil rights protections to the LGBTQ community, Greene hung up a poster across the hall that read: "There are TWO genders. MALE & FEMALE. Trust the Science!"
"Thought we'd put up ours so [Newman] can look at it every time she opens her door," she said in a video.
Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., called Greene's poster "sickening, pathetic, unimaginably cruel."
Greene has been a headache for Republican leaders at times, but they have not taken any punitive steps in response to her actions and they decried Democrats voting to take away her committee assignments.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., spoke to Greene before she was removed from her committees and after Republicans started to complain about her attempts to delay routine floor actions, but neither those nor other conversations resulted in punishment.
"Past comments from and endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene on school shootings, political violence, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories do not represent the values or beliefs of the House Republican Conference," he said in a statement released during the debate over her committee assignments. "I made this clear to Marjorie when we met. I also made clear that as a member of Congress we have a responsibility to hold ourselves to a higher standard than how she presented herself as a private citizen. Her past comments now have much greater meaning. Marjorie recognized this in our conversation. I hold her to her word, as well as her actions going forward."
Since asking earlier this year to debate Ocasio-Cortez, Greene has confronted her one other time on the House floor, when she approached the New York congresswoman last month to try to schedule a date for a debate over the Green New Deal, a set of environmental policies intended to combat climate change. In a video posted to social media a day later, Greene criticized Ocasio-Cortez for not debating her.
"If she chickens out, then she shows who she really is: a scared little girl that is pretty stupid and doesn't know anything about the economy or economics," Greene said.
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The Washington Post’s Jacqueline Alemany contributed to this report.