Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) appeared on the House floor Thursday to address comments directed toward her from Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Florida), who reportedly used derogatory language earlier this week following a heated exchange between the two members of Congress.
On Monday, as Yoho was walking down the steps of the Capitol building, he passed Ocasio-Cortez, stopping to call her “disgusting” for suggesting poverty and unemployment might be driving a spike in crime in New York City.
“You are out of your freaking mind,” he added.
Ocasio-Cortez responded by calling Yoho “rude.” As the two parted ways, a reporter heard Yoho call her a “fucking bitch” after the confrontation.
After reports of their exchange went viral, Yoho on Wednesday spoke on the floor of the House to offer an apology, which many criticized for trying to put blame elsewhere.
Yoho denied using the offensive language, suggesting the reporter misheard his words. He added that having a wife and two daughters made him “very cognizant” of the words he used, implying he couldn’t have said them.
“The offensive name-calling words attributed to me by the press were never spoken to my colleagues and if they were construed that way, I apologize for their misunderstanding,” Yoho said.
The congressman also said he would not “apologize for my passion or for loving my God, my family, or my country,” which influenced his interaction with Ocasio-Cortez.
Shortly after his statement on Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that his statement was not an apology, as Yoho was “refusing responsibility” for his words.
On the floor of the House on Thursday, she addressed the matter head-on, using Yoho’s words without censoring the vulgarities.
‘This is not new and that is the problem’ — Rep. @AOC called out Rep. Yoho, Trump, DeSantis, and ‘the entire structure’ that upholds sexist, dehumanizing attacks from men in politics pic.twitter.com/Dmeun7hw5B
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 23, 2020
The congresswoman explained that women across the country regularly face misogynistic language.
“These are the words that Rep. Yoho levied against a congresswoman, a congresswoman that not only represents New York’s 14th congressional district, but every congresswoman and every woman in this country,” she said. “All of us have had to deal with this in some form, in some way, some shape, at some point in our lives.”
Ocasio-Cortez stressed that Yoho’s comments were not “deeply hurtful” to her personally because she’s been subjected to them before. “I have tossed men out of bars that have used language like Mr. Yoho’s,” she said.
“This is not new. And that is the problem,” Ocasio-Cortez added.
She also responded directly to Yoho’s statement made to the floor on Wednesday.
“Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters. I am two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter. I am someone’s daughter too,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter.”
The representative from New York noted that Yoho wasn’t alone when they interacted earlier this week, and was in fact walking alongside another Republican congressman when he made his offensive comments. Ocasio-Cortez said it was important to point out that the issue wasn’t just about one lawmaker’s statements, but also a culture “of accepting violence and violent language against women.”
She also reminded her House colleagues that this wasn’t the first time she had been attacked, bringing up racist comments from 2019, when President Donald Trump told her and three other Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to their own countries in response to their criticisms of his leadership at the time.
Trump’s words gave “the implication that I don’t even belong in America,” Ocasio-Cortez said in her House speech on Thursday.
“This is a pattern of attitude toward women and dehumanization of others,” she added.