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Leaders on both sides of the political aisle are calling for ‘civility’ after a conservative Republican lawmaker from Florida had a fiery exchange with socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building earlier this week.
GOP Rep. Ted Yoho, who is retiring at the end of his current term, was descending the Capitol steps after a vote on Monday when he saw Ocasio-Cortez of New York walking up the steps to cast a vote.
According to a reporter from The Hill who overheard the exchange, Yoho called Ocasio-Cortez’s recent anti-police comments about rising crime rates in her home city “disgusting.”
“You are out of your freaking mind,” Yoho was overheard saying, leading Ocasio-Cortez to respond that he was being “rude.”
After the exchange, the two separated with Yoho reportedly muttering, “F**king b**ch.”
News of the confrontation was met with shock and anger on Capitol Hill from constituents in both parties.
“We need to pursue this kind of conduct and make it very clear it is unacceptable,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who added Yoho should apologize to the New York Democrat on the House floor.
“I think it was despicable conduct that needs to be sanctioned,” he added.
A few hours later, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called Yoho to his office to discuss the incident, The Hill reported.
“We think everybody should show respect to one another, and not knowing what took place I’ll have a discussion with him to see what happened,” McCarthy told reporters before the meeting.
Yoho has since apologized, adding that he did not call her a name.
“I rise to apologize for the abrupt manner of the conversation I had,” Yoho said on the House floor Wednesday. “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.”
The confrontation came after lawmakers returned from an extended Independence Day break, during which Ocasio-Cortez appeared in a Zoom town hall-style meeting where she criticized the NYPD’s budget and claimed that spikes in homicides and other violent acts were tied to increased poverty amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Republicans are all upset that I’m connecting the dots between poverty and crime.
I know most of them haven’t experienced or seen these issues first hand, but I have.
This may be hard for them to admit, but poverty and crime are highly linked, both violent & nonviolent alike. https://t.co/4t34dCLZlw
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 13, 2020
“This may be hard for them to admit, but poverty and crime are highly linked, both violent & nonviolent alike,” she wrote in a tweet accompanying a video of the event.
As an advocate of defunding the NYPD, AOC, as she is known, went on to claim that “all those billions of dollars” spent on the New York Police Department “somehow have not prevented the uptick in crime that we’re seeing.”
“Maybe this has to do with the fact that people aren’t paying their rent and are scared to pay their rent and so they go out, and they need to feed their child and they don’t have money,” she said, going on to claim that “they’re put in a position where they feel like they either need to shoplift some bread or go hungry that night.”
The NYPD has blamed the uptick in crime and violence, which police unions have seen evolve over the past couple of years, on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policies against more aggressive law enforcement.
To all our friends in law enforcement both outside & in the USA. DO NOT visit NYC & DO NOT encourage friends & family to visit. The city is dangerous thanks to our elected officials see for yourself. @StamatakisCPA @Pat_gooley @ANPV_nl @AP_Europe @GermanyUN @LAPPL @sjpoa @GLFOP https://t.co/2AlDSoRc4S
— SBA (@SBANYPD) June 28, 2020
On Tuesday, Yoho’s office issued a statement in which the lawmaker downplayed the confrontation.
“As you know, these conversations happen frequently when the House is in session,” the statement read, according to The Hill.
Ocasio-Cortez also responded on Twitter.
“Believe it or not, I usually get along fine w/ my GOP colleagues. We know how to check our legislative sparring at the committee door,” she wrote. “But hey, ‘b*tches’ get stuff done.”
I never spoke to Rep. Yoho before he decided to accost me on the steps of the nation’s Capitol yesterday.
Believe it or not, I usually get along fine w/ my GOP colleagues. We know how to check our legislative sparring at the committee door.
But hey, “b*tches” get stuff done. 🤷🏽♀️ https://t.co/WlG3xccwR7
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 21, 2020
Ocasio-Cortez was also defended by another GOP lawmaker from Florida, Rep. Matt Gaetz.
“I can confirm that AOC gets along w many of her Republican colleagues on a range of things that don’t have anything to do w legislation or politics,” he tweeted. “She is not a b**ch.”
I can confirm that AOC gets along w many of her Republican colleagues on a range of things that don’t have anything to do w legislation or politics.
She is not a bitch.
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) July 21, 2020
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