Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says no other member of Congress — or any female — should be treated the way a conservative Florida congressman “accosted” her on Monday at the Capitol.
The freshman New York congresswoman wants Ted Yoho of Florida “to apologize on the floor of the House,” she said in an interview with Bloomberg News.
Yoho declined to give his version of their encounter while emerging from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office Tuesday night. He said he didn’t want to talk about it.
At issue, according to the freshman congresswoman from the Bronx and Queens, is an episode on a Capitol staircase in which Yoho “just came up on me, put his finger in my face, started calling me ‘disgusting.’” She added that Representative Roger Williams, a Texas Republican, was standing with Yoho.
“And when it became clear he was just not going to stop, I called him rude, but started walking away,” she said.
A reporter for the Hill newspaper who witnessed the encounter wrote that Yoho then uttered the words “f—— b—ch.” Ocasio-Cortez said in the interview she didn’t hear that, but did hear him “making a sound.”
She said Yoho, a veterinarian whose district is in northeast Florida, 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.”
“Basically what I had said — violent crime aside, look at petty crime. A lot of what motivates petty crime is poverty, and a lot of these crimes are crimes of poverty,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
She added she didn’t know why Yoho, in particular, got so upset at her, and that she had never really spoken to him before. Now, however, she wants him to apologize on the House floor — or she will consider taking some other action.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer earlier Tuesday told reporters that Yoho should apologize. He called the incident, “despicable, unacceptable,” and that “Mr. Yoho owes not only the congresswoman an apology, but also an apology on the floor.”
“It’s something that the leader offered. I didn’t request that of him,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“You know, when it first happened, I tried to kind of brush it under the rug,” added Ocasio-Cortez. “But as I sat with it, how I really felt was, this wasn’t really not about me — about whether I was offended or not offended. It’s not a question of that.”
“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.