Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to the House floor Thursday to deliver a passionate, fiery speech aimed at the Republican member of Congress who accosted her on the Capitol steps and then reportedly used derogatory language about her, which he later denied.
“In front of reporters, Rep. Yoho called me, and I quote, ‘a f—— bitch.’ These are the words that Rep. Yoho levied against a congresswoman,” Ocasio-Cortez said, using the full phrase in remarks that now become part of the official Congressional Record.
“I do not need Rep. Yoho to apologize to me. 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 said.
“This is not new…it is a culture of lack of impunity; of accepting of violence and violent language against women; and an entire structure of power that supports that,” the New York Democrat added.
Florida Republican Rep. Ted Yoho issued an apology in a floor speech on Wednesday for the “abrupt manner” he admitted he used in an exchange he had with Ocasio-Cortez on Monday. But he denied that he used profanity toward Ocasio-Cortez, blaming the reporter who overheard his comments for a “misunderstanding.”
“Having been married for 45 years, with two daughters, I’m very cognizant of my language,” Yoho said. “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.”
He added: “I cannot apologize for my passion, or for loving my God, my family and my country.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who has said Yoho’s remarks do not amount to an apology, said Thursday that Yoho 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.”
She also excoriated Yoho for “using women, our wives and daughters as shields and excuses for poor behavior.”
“Mr. Yoho said he has a wife and daughter. I am two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter. And I am somebody’s daughter, too. My father is thankfully not alive to see his daughter abused in this way,” she said. “Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man.”
“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.
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.”
She also called out the notable silence from her Republican colleagues.
“I have yet to see Republican colleagues standing up for their daughters and saying that this behavior was unacceptable,” Ocasio-Cortez said, calling the silence deafening.
Ocasio-Cortez, who had up to one hour of “personal privilege” to address the incident also yielded to her fellow Democratic colleagues who in turn made speeches backing her up, while also addressing issues of violence, sexism, misogyny, abuse, and harassment women face every day.
“Nearly every woman in the world has experienced verbal abuse, not just once, but since they were little girls,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., said on the House floor. “We see it coming regularly from the president of the United States. And now we see it coming from his partisan lackeys.”
Yoho’s initial comments, overheard by a veteran Hill reporter for The Hill, came after the GOP congressman reportedly said that Ocasio-Cortez was “disgusting” for her stance on policing and crime.
“You are out of your freaking mind,” Yoho reportedly told Ocasio-Cortez on the House steps for suggesting during a town hall last month that poverty and unemployment are leading to a spike in crime in New York City amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ocasio-Cortez responded to the charge by telling Yoho he was being “rude.”
After parting ways, Yoho was overheard by the reporter allegedly referring to Ocasio-Cortez as a “f—— bitch.”
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 acknowledgement 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.”