Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., excoriated Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., on the House floor Thursday, a day after he denied calling her a “f—ing b—-,” “crazy,” and “disgusting” on the steps of the Capitol this week.
“I walked back out and there were reporters in the front of the capitol, and in front of reporters representative Yoho called me, and I quote, a f—ing b—- — f—ing b—-,” she said of their encounter on Monday. “These are the words representative Yoho levied convenience against a congresswoman.”
“And I want to be clear that representative Yoho’s comments were not deeply hurtful or piercing to me,” she added. “Because I have worked a working-class job. I have waited tables and I have ridden the subway. I have walked the streets in New York City. And this kind of language is not new. I have encountered words uttered by Mr. Yoho and men uttering the same words as Mr. Yoho while I was being harassed in restaurants. I have tossed men out of bars that have used language like Mr. Yoho’s.”
The New York Democrat thanked colleagues in both parties who she said reached out in support following the confrontation.
She said she was rising to speak after Yoho’s speech from the House floor on Wednesday, in which he said he apologized for the “abrupt manner” of his discussion with Ocasio-Cortez but that he did not say the “offensive name-calling words attributed” to him. He added, “if they were construed that way I apologize for their misunderstanding.”
“It is true that we disagree on policies and visions for America, but that does not mean we should be disrespectful. Having been married for 45 years with two daughters, I’m very cognizant of my language,” Yoho said, later adding he cannot apologize for “my passion or for loving my God, my family and my country.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who said Wednesday that Yoho’s remarks did not amount to an apology, said Thursday he went to the House floor to “make excuses for his behavior.”
“And that I could not let go. I could not allow my nieces, I could not allow the little girls I go home to, I could not allow victims of verbal abuse and worse to see that, to see that excuse and to see our Congress accept it as legitimate,” she said. “And to accept it as an apology. And to accept silence as a form of acceptance, I could not allow that to stand.”
“And I do not need Rep. Yoho to apologize to me,” she added. “Clearly, he does not want to. Clearly, when given the opportunity he will not. And I will not stay up late at night waiting for an apology from a man who has no remorse over calling women and using abusive language towards women.”
She also lambasted Yoho for “using women, our wives and daughters as shields and excuses for poor behavior.”
“Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters,” she said. “I am two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter. I am someone’s daughter, too. My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter. My mother got to see Mr. Yoho’s disrespect on the floor of this House towards me on television, and I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter and that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men.”
The exchange between Yoho and Ocasio-Cortez was first reported by The Hill, which said Yoho called Ocasio-Cortez “disgusting” for suggesting unemployment and poverty were leading to a rise in crime in New York City.
“You are out of your freaking mind,” Yoho told Ocasio-Cortez, who then told him that he was “rude,” The Hill wrote, adding that the conversation was overheard by a reporter and that Yoho said “f—ing bitch” as he walked away. In a statement to NBC News, a Yoho spokesman denied that he used the slur.
“He did not call Rep. Ocasio-Cortez what has been reported in the Hill or any name for that matter,” said the spokesman, Brian Kaveney, who added, “Instead, he made a brief comment to himself as he walked away summarizing what he believes her polices to be: bulls—.”
Yoho appeared to be referring to Ocasio-Cortez’s remark this month that “crime is a problem of a diseased society, which neglects its marginalized people.”
Asked about Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday said the incident is “a manifestation of attitudes in our society.”
“It’s a manifestation of attitudes in our society really, I can tell you that firsthand, they’ve called me names for at least at least 20 years of leadership, 18 years of leadership,” she said. “There’s no limit to the disrespect or the lack of acknowledgment of the strength of women and nothing brings more, nothing is more wholesome for our government for our politics for our country than the increased participation of women and women will be treated with respect.”
At a Thursday press conference, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., claimed Yoho apologized “not once but twice” to Ocasio-Cortez, and pointed to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., having also accepted Yoho’s remarks as an apology.
On Thursday, McCarthy said he believes that “when someone apologizes, they should be forgiven.”
“I don’t understand that we’re gonna take another hour on a floor to debate whether the apology was good enough or not,” he said. “He said I was sorry.”