Rep. Ted Yoho on Wednesday apologized for aggressively confronting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez outside the Capitol earlier this week, but denied he used profanity to address the congresswoman.
“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 in a rare floor speech to address a personal matter with another lawmaker.
The retiring Florida Republican had come under scrutiny for reportedly confronting the New York Democrat on the steps of the Capitol on Monday, when he berated her for comments she’d made about how poverty and joblessness have contributed to rising crime in New York City.
Ocasio-Cortez later said the apology was inadequate, noting that Yoho was deflecting the blame and refusing to apologize for what he said to her.
“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,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter.
Asked if Yoho had personally apologized, a spokesman for the Florida Republican said “I don’t believe they have spoken.” Yoho’s brief floor speech did not specifically mention Ocasio-Cortez by name, calling her only “my colleague from New York.”
Yoho called Ocasio-Cortez “disgusting” when he walked past her on the steps of the Capitol, according to a reporter for The Hill newspaper, who witnessed the exchange. Yoho then told her, “You are out of your freaking mind.”
Ocasio-Cortez told Yoho he was being “rude,” and then kept walking. Yoho was then heard by the reporter saying, “F—ing b—-.” His office denied Tuesday that he made those specific remarks, and said he was saying the word “bulls—.”
Speaking on the House floor, Yoho again denied he used profanity to refer to Ocasio-Cortez.
“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.
The floor remarks come after several Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), called on Yoho to apologize for his conduct toward another member.
Yoho also had a private meeting with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday.
Shortly after Yoho spoke on the floor, Hoyer addressed the chamber to thank the Florida Republican for his apology.
“I hope that Mr. Yoho feels that apology sincerely. And I hope all of us will take a lesson, think before we speak so harshly to one another,” Hoyer said.
The Florida Republican also used the floor speech to defend his “passion” for the issue of poverty saying his family, too, had struggled financially and at times needed federal assistance for food. He said people should “not be encouraged to break the law.”
“I cannot apologize for my passion or for loving my God, my family, and my country,” he said.