A Republican congressman offered an apology today for the "abrupt manner" he used in a verbal confrontation with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez but denied aiming a sexist slur at her.
Ocasio-Cortez rejected her colleague's words, saying they were "not an apology" and what she heard was a vulgar slur.
Ted Yoho, of Florida, made his remarks on the House floor a day after the New York lawmaker said he'd angrily harangued her outside the Capitol over her linkage of joblessness and some recent crimes.
In an encounter that was witnessed by a reporter from the Hill newspaper, Yoho assailed her for asserting that a recent upsurge in some crimes during the coronavirus pandemic could be linked to poverty and joblessness.
The publication wrote that Yoho, one of the House's most conservative members, used a sexist slur as he walked away from Ocasio-Cortez.
"I rise to apologise 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."
Echoing an explanation his spokesman made yesterday, Yoho said that "offensive name-calling words attributed to me by the press were never spoken to my colleagues, and if they were construed that way I apologise for their misunderstanding."
Yoho seemed to suggest his actions were due to his strong feelings about the issue, saying "I'm passionate about those affected by poverty." He said he and his wife were food stamps when they were young and added, "I cannot apologise for my passion."
In a series of tweets, Ocasio-Cortez rejected Yoho's remarks, saying he hadn't mentioned her name or specified what he was apologising for.
"Republican responds to calling a colleague 'disgusting' & a 'f***ing b***h' w/ 'I cannot apologise for my passion' and blaming others," she wrote. "I will not teach my nieces and young people watching that this an apology, and what they should learn to accept. Yoho is refusing responsibility."
Yoho, 65, is a member of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus and is retiring in January. In less than two years in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez, 30, has become a progressive lightning rod, clashing with US President Donald Trump and other Republicans and at times other Democrats.