US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to the House floor on Thursday to respond to comments made by colleague Ted Yoho the day before in an attempted apology after he reportedly called her a “fucking bitch” earlier in the week.
The Florida Republican has repeatedly denied that he uttered vulgar language at the New York Democrat, which was overheard by a reporter for The Hill. According to the outlet, Yoho accosted Ocasio-Cortez on the steps of the Capitol on Tuesday, saying she was “disgusting” before making the “fucking bitch” comment once she had walked away.
In her floor comments, Ocasio-Cortez said, “When I was reflecting on this, I honestly just thought I was going to pack it up and go home ― it’s just another day. But then yesterday, Rep. Yoho decided to come to the floor of the House of Representatives and make excuses for his behavior.”
Yoho had insisted Wednesday said that “the offensive name-calling words attributed to me by the press were never spoken to my colleagues,” adding, “and if they were construed that way, I apologize for their misunderstanding.”
Characterizing his confrontation with Ocasio-Cortez as a “conversation” instead of a verbal assault, he said, “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 the language I use.”
Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday said she was fine with Yoho not being willing to honestly apologize for his actions, but she took exception to the way Yoho invoked his image as a family man.
“What I do have an issue with is using women, our wives, our daughters as shields and excuses for poor behavior,” she said. “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. 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 continued, “What Mr. Yoho did was give permission for men to use that language against his daughters. “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.”
The congresswoman said the incident highlighted a culture of “impunity” that allows powerful men to make “dehumanizing” comments about women, even when they are their colleagues.
“This kind of language is not new,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I have tossed men out of bars that have used language like Mr. Yoho’s.”
She added: “This is not new, and that is the problem.”
Yoho, first elected in 2012, is not seeking reelection this year.