Washington — Congressman Ted Yoho, a Republican from Florida, apologized Wednesday for the "abrupt manner" in which he spoke to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, on the steps of the Capitol this week, but denied calling her an obscenity.
In remarks on the House floor, Yoho discussed the confrontation he initiated with Ocasio-Cortez, which was first reported by The Hill and later addressed by the New York Democrat on Twitter. According to The Hill, Yoho took issue with Ocasio-Cortez's suggestion that poverty and unemployment led to a recent rise in crime in New York City and called the congresswoman a "f***ing b****" as he walked away.
"I rise to apologize for the abrupt manner of the conversation I had with my colleague from New York," Yoho said. "It is true that we disagree on policies and visions for America, but that does not mean we should be disrespectful."
Yoho said he wanted to "address the strife I injected into the already contentious Congress" and said his passion on the issue of poverty stemmed from his own experiences. While he acknowledged the heated manner with which he spoke to Ocasio-Cortez, he denied using profanity toward his fellow lawmaker.
"Having been married for 45 years with two daughters, I'm very cognizant of my language," he 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."
Yoho said he "cannot apologize for my passion or for loving my God, my family and my country."
In response to Yoho's remarks, Ocasio-Cortez said the congressman is "refusing responsibility."
"Republican responds to calling a colleague 'disgusting' & a 'f—ing b*tch' w/ 'I cannot apologize for my passion' and blaming others," she tweeted. "I will not teach my nieces and young people watching that this an apology, and what they should learn to accept."
Ocasio-Cortez said Tuesday she had not spoken with Yoho before he confronted her on the Capitol steps and typically gets along with her Republican colleagues despite their political differences.
"We know how to check our legislative sparring at the committee door. But hey, 'b*tches' get stuff done," she said, referring to the report from The Hill on Yoho's name-calling.
Yoho's office on Tuesday denied The Hill's description of events between him and Ocasio-Cortez but acknowledged they "had a brief member to member conversation." His office accused the congresswoman of "using this exchange to gain personal attention," and claimed Yoho had actually said "bulls**t."