Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) apologized on the House floor Wednesday for what he called “the abrupt manner” of the conversation he had with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on the Capitol steps earlier this week.
“It is true that we disagree on policies and visions for America but that does not mean we should be disrespectful,” Yoho said.
The Florida congressman said that the “offensive name-calling words” attributed to him by the press were “never spoken by me to my colleagues and if they were construed that way I apologize for their misunderstanding.”
Seizing an opportunity to politicize the moment, Yoho said he would not apologize for his passionate perspective on addressing “the face of poverty” or excusing crime.
“I cannot apologize for my passion, or for loving my God, my family, and my country,” Yoho said.
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 22, 2020
Ocasio-Cortez had said in an interview with Bloomberg Tuesday evening that she wanted Yoho “to apologize on the floor of the House,” for accosting her on the Capitol steps Monday.
The call for an apology came after a reporter from The Hill detailed an altercation between the two members of Congress as Yoho descended the steps of the Capitol and told Ocasio-Cortez that she was “disgusting” for saying that the coronavirus pandemic was one of the reasons for an upshot in crime. “You’re out of your freaking mind,” Yoho added.
Ocasio-Cortez responded that the congressman was being “rude” before continuing her ascent up the stairs to cast a vote.
Yoho, joined by Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX), continued down the stairs and after a few steps was overheard by a reporter from The Hill allegedly uttering the words “fucking bitch.”
Ocasio-Corez told Bloomberg that Yoho “just came up on me, put his finger in my face, started calling me ‘disgusting.’” She added that “when it became clear he was just not going to stop, I called him rude, but started walking away.”
Ocasio-Cortez said in the interview that while she didn’t hear the slur described in The Hill report, she did hear him “making a sound.”
She said Yoho was upset at comments she had made at a virtual town hall about rising crime in New York City being the result of the coronavirus pandemic, poverty and rising unemployment — not lack of policing, that she says some have taken “deliberately out of context.”
“A lot of what motivates petty crime is poverty, and a lot of these crimes are crimes of poverty,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
The New York lawmaker said that she didn’t know why Yoho, in particular, fumed at her, adding that the two had never really spoken before.
Ocasio-Cortez had told Bloomberg that if the Florida lawmaker refused to apologize she would consider taking some other action.
“You know, when it first happened, I tried to kind of brush it under the rug,” Ocasio-Cortez said, adding that as she “sat with it” she realized it was less a question of whether or not she felt personally offended.
“It’s a question of whether I’d want any other person in this body to be treated that way. Would I want my niece, or would I want any of the young girls, or young people in general that say one day I want to go to Congress, to be accosted?” she asked.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer earlier Tuesday told reporters that Yoho should apologize for the incident which he called “despicable, unacceptable.”
“Mr. Yoho needed no apology for his passion about poverty,” Hoyer said after Yoho concluded his apology on Wednesday. “But he ought to remember and acknowledge that the person to whom he spoke to so inappropriately was one of the strongest fighters in this Congress for those with the least.”