New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke on the House floor Thursday about a heated exchange earlier this week with Florida Rep. Ted Yoho after which he reportedly called her a “f**king bitch,” saying that by accosting her, he gave “permission to other men to do that to his daughters.”
Ocasio-Cortez recounted the incident and repeated the term, saying she has an issue with “using women, our wives and daughters as shields and excuses for poor behavior.”
“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. My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter,” she said with emotion in her voice. “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.”
She later added, “When you do that to any woman, what Mr. Yoho did was give permission to other men to do that to his daughters. In using that language, in front of the press, he gave permission to use that language against his wife, his daughters, women in his community, and I am here to stand up to say that is not acceptable.”
According to a reporter from The Hill, who overheard the initial remarks, Yoho came up to Ocasio-Cortez outside the House steps on Monday and sparked a conversation about her position on unemployment and crime in New York City. Yoho said she was “disgusting” and told her she is out of her mind, according to The Hill. Ocasio-Cortez said he was being rude, and Yoho said “f**king bitch” as he walked away.
On Wednesday, Yoho apologized on the House floor to Ocasio-Cortez for the “abrupt manner of the conversation” he had with her, but he denied using the vulgar term to describe her and said that he was “very cognizant”of his language because he was married and a father. The Republican also said it “is true that we disagree on policies and visions for America, but that does not mean we should be disrespectful.”
He said he never used the “offensive name calling, words attributed to me by the press.” He added that he is “passionate” about those affected by poverty and believes those in poverty can rise beyond their troubles “without being encouraged to break the law,” the subject of their conversation.
“I will commit to each of you that I will conduct myself from a place of passion and understanding that policy and political disagreement be vigorously debated with the knowledge that we approach the problems facing our nation with the betterment of the country in mind and the people we serve. I cannot apologize for my passion or for loving my God, my family and my country,” Yoho said.
His office also denied he made the comment in a statement to CNN, saying that he “made a brief comment to himself as he walked away summarizing what he believes her policies to be: bullshit.”
Ocasio-Cortez also said Yoho, in his apology on the House floor, made “excuses for his behavior” and “having a daughter does not make a man decent.”
“Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man,” she said.
She said Yoho’s comments “were not deeply hurtful or piercing” because she has experienced the same type of behavior from men while working as a waitress and everyday life.
“I have waited tables in restaurants. I have ridden the subway. I have walked the streets in New York City. And this kind of language is not new,” she said. “I have tossed men out of bars that have used language like Mr. Yoho’s, and I have encountered this type of harassment riding the subway in New York City. This is not new.”
Yoho said Thursday that he refused to “apologize for something I didn’t say” and “No one was accosted, bullied or attacked.”
“This was a brief policy discussion, plain and simple, and we have our differences,” he said. “We are both passionate members of Congress and equals. She has every right to give her account of the conversation but she doesn’t have the right to inflate, talk about my family or give an account that did not happen for political gain.”