More than a dozen House Democrats lined up Thursday to support Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the floor of the chamber, issuing a chain of blistering rebukes to Republican Rep. Ted Yoho for aggressively confronting the New York Democrat outside of the Capitol this week.
Ocasio-Cortez recounted the confrontation with Yoho — which was witnessed by a reporter — in a speech Thursday morning, lamenting the incident as an outgrowth of a toxic and sexist culture that some lawmakers still perpetuate on Capitol Hill.
“These are the words representative Yoho levied against a congresswoman,” Ocasio-Cortez said, saying aloud the words that Yoho was overheard saying to describe her: "F---ing b----.” She noted that she’d been the target of such language countless times while working in restaurants or on the streets and subways of New York.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, too, voiced her support for Ocasio-Cortez, telling reporters during a press conference that Yoho's conduct was "condescending."
"The fact that the behavior of one of the members is such that the whole Democratic Women's Caucus has gone to the floor — at a time when our floor time is very precious — tells you how important this is," Pelosi said during a press conference when asked about Ocasio-Cortez's floor speech on Thursday.
“It’s a manifestation of attitudes in our society really. I can tell you this first hand, they called me names for at least 20 years of leadership,” Pelosi said, standing alongside Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who chimed in, “Oh, more.”
Among those who spoke on the floor in defense of Ocasio-Cortez was the No. 2 Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer, who characterized Yoho’s remarks as an “attack.”
The parade of speeches from House Democrats is a show of force behind Ocasio-Cortez, who has been vilified by Republicans since arriving in Washington a year and a half ago. At times, the freshman Democrat, while a rising star on the left, has also become a lightning rod within her own party.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who has faced personal attacks of her own from GOP members, delivered a powerful speech on the floor condemning the sexist culture that women, particularly women of color, still face.
"These are the things that happen to us all the time," Jayapal said on the floor, noting out of the 11,000 people who have served in Congress, only 79 are women of color.
“We are not going away. There are going to be more of us here," she added. "There is going to be more power in the hands of women across this country. And we are going to continue to speak up.”
Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), one of the highest ranking Democratic women in Congress, said she hurried to the floor to take part in the parade of speeches just as the hour was ending.
“This is something that every single woman I know, and I’m sure every single woman in our country, has experienced to some degree or another,” Clark said in an interview afterwards, calling Yoho’s attempt on Wednesday to apologize “unacceptable.”
“We are done with not only these type of comments, sexism from our colleagues, but also, not taking responsibility for their actions,” Clark said. “If we don’t speak up, it just becomes something that women and girls just accept in their lives.”
On Wednesday, Yoho went to the floor to apologize for the manner in which he confronted Ocasio-Cortez. But he did not apologize to her personally for his remarks and denied using profanity to refer to Ocasio-Cortez, a response she decried as inadequate.
“I rise to apologize for the abrupt manner of the conversation I had with my colleague from New York. It is true that we disagree on policies and visions for America, but that does not mean we should be disrespectful,” Yoho said Wednesday.
“I could not allow my nieces, I could not allow the little girls that 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 accepted as legitimate and accept it as an apology and to accept silence as a form of acceptance, I could not allow that to stand," Ocasio-Cortez said, adding, "This is not new. And that is the problem.”
Then, Ocasio-Cortez yielded the floor to more than a dozen of her Democratic colleagues, mostly women, to deliver their own floor speeches rebuking Yoho's comments and recalling times when they were also aggressively confronted by men.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy indicated that he was satisfied with Yoho's remarks on the floor Wednesday. Yoho "made a mistake," McCarthy told reporters Thursday in his weekly press conference, but the California Republican argued that Yoho (R-Fla.) apologized to Ocasio-Cortez for the confrontation, and should be forgiven.
He also questioned Democrats' decision to use an hour of floor time to address the issue.
Ocasio-Cortez said during her own floor speech on Thursday that she would not demand a personal apology from Yoho.
“I do not need Representative Yoho to apologize to me. Clearly he does not want to,” the New York Democrat said. She also denounced Yoho for holding up his wife and daughters as a “shield” for his comments during his Wednesday apology. “I am someone’s daughter too,” the congresswoman said, noting that she is two years younger than Yoho’s youngest daughter.
Original story here.