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Looking Into Claims That Marjorie Taylor Greene's State of the Union Outfit Broke Congressional Rules

Tom Williams / Getty Images
Tom Williams / Getty Images

On March 7, 2024, before U.S. President Joe Biden had even begun his State of the Union address, he caught a glance of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. The outspoken Republican from Georgia paired a red blazer with a white T-shirt reading "Say Her Name: Laken Riley" and a red "Make America Great Again" hat that has long been associated with former President Donald Trump's political campaigning.

Upon seeing her, Biden made … an expression. A CNN camera caught the interaction and it quickly went viral.

But House Democrats expressed a different emotion than the mix of astonishment and disgust that came over Biden's face: scorn.

Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, posted on X that Greene violated House rules by wearing the hat, which he called "campaign insignia," on the House floor.

On March 8, 2024, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries explicitly called Greene out for the hat, telling "extreme MAGA Republicans" who wished to "lecture [Democrats] about decorum" to "get lost."

In an interview with the conservative news organization Right Side Broadcasting Network, Greene said the sergeant at arms of the House of Representatives approached her and asked her to remove the hat or leave. She refused but was not removed from the premises.

"I would have loved to see them try and do that," the interviewer said.

"Me too," Greene replied.

Did Greene break any rules? The Democrats seem to think so, and Greene herself said that the nonpartisan sergeant at arms wanted her to remove the hat for reasons of "decorum."

We looked through documents from the House Committee on Ethics to figure out the exact rules and regulations. The committee's website contains a brief overview of the regulations against using "official resources for campaign and political purposes." That overview contained the following guideline:

House Buildings, and House Rooms and Offices.  The House buildings, and House rooms and offices – including district offices – are supported with official funds and hence are considered official resources.  Accordingly, as a general rule, they may not be used for the conduct of campaign or political activities.

While this is not the first time representatives have made symbolic fashion choices during the State of the Union address, the MAGA hat has come to represent explicit support of Trump's political campaign. Greene's decision to wear the hat in the House chamber during an election year could very well be viewed as a "campaign activity." Only time will tell if she faces repercussions for the decision.

Sources:

"About." House Committee on Ethics, 14 Mar. 2019, https://ethics.house.gov/about.

"Biden Says Her Name — Laken Riley — at Urging of GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene." AP News, 8 Mar. 2024, https://apnews.com/article/laken-riley-biden-speech-immigration-d756dbe1c499c6fd0fc53be04290b371.

Brodey, Sam. "Marjorie Taylor Greene Breaks House Rules to Wear MAGA Hat at State of the Union." The Daily Beast, 8 Mar. 2024. www.thedailybeast.com, https://www.thedailybeast.com/marjorie-taylor-greene-breaks-house-rules-to-wear-maga-hat-at-state-of-the-union.

Friedman, Vanessa. "Battling Dress Codes at the State of the Union." The New York Times, 8 Mar. 2024. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/08/style/women-white-laken-riley-pins-state-of-the-union.html.

"General Prohibition Against Using Official Resources for Campaign or Political Purposes." House Committee on Ethics, 14 July 2011, https://ethics.house.gov/campaign/general-prohibition-against-using-official-resources-campaign-or-political-purposes.

"Https://Twitter.Com/Acyn/Status/1765970614719025266." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/Acyn/status/1765970614719025266. Accessed 8 Mar. 2024.

"Https://Twitter.Com/BaileyCarlin/Status/1765926761798275532." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/BaileyCarlin/status/1765926761798275532. Accessed 8 Mar. 2024.

"Https://Twitter.Com/RepJeffries/Status/1766156544641568892." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/RepJeffries/status/1766156544641568892. Accessed 8 Mar. 2024.

"Https://Twitter.Com/RepRaskin/Status/1765925974648963242." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/RepRaskin/status/1765925974648963242. Accessed 8 Mar. 2024.

"See the Outfits That Made a Statement at the State of the Union." Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2024/state-of-the-union-outfits-fashion/. Accessed 8 Mar. 2024.

Shear, Michael D., and Shane Goldmacher. "5 Takeaways From the State of the Union." The New York Times, 8 Mar. 2024. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/07/us/politics/state-of-the-union-takeaways.html.