Democrats are rallying to the defense of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after she was reportedly verbally harassed by a Republican lawmaker outside of the Capitol on Monday.
The progressive New York Democrat was confronted by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) over her views that joblessness and poverty has caused a surge of crime in New York City in recent weeks — a confrontation that was witnessed and recounted by a reporter of The Hill newspaper.
“I never spoke to Rep. Yoho before he decided to accost me on the steps of the nation’s Capitol yesterday,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Tuesday in response to the story.
The freshman Democrat — a star of the left who has become one of the most recognizable figures in politics — has been vilified by Republicans on and off Capitol Hill since she was elected in 2018. GOP operatives frequently use Ocasio-Cortez, who is a Democratic socialist, in campaign ads to hit other Democrats.
Yoho called Ocasio-Cortez “disgusting” when he walked past her on the steps of the Capitol on Monday, referring to her comments on crime, The Hill reported. "You are out of your freaking mind," he said.
In response, 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 has denied he made those remarks.
"Congressman Yoho had a brief member to member conversation on the steps of the Capitol," Yoho spokesman Brian Kaveney said in a statement.
"He did not call Rep. Ocasio-Cortez what has been reported in the Hill or any name for that matter," he said. "Instead, he made a brief comment to himself as he walked away summarizing what he believes her policies to be: bulls---."
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that Yoho should apologize publicly and that his conduct “needs to be sanctioned," though he didn’t elaborate on what that could entail.
"Mr. Yoho owes not only the congresswoman an apology but also an apology on the floor of the House of Representatives,” Hoyer told reporters. “We need to pursue this kind of conduct and make it very clear it is unacceptable.”
Several other House Democrats were quick to stand behind the New York freshman after the report, which quickly went viral on social media. Lawmakers blasted Yoho’s comments as sexist, noting that women of color must put up with those kinds of confrontations more than their white, male counterparts.
“No one should experience that type of hate,” Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) tweeted. “To some — fierce women are scary. Stay strong.”
Heather Caygle contributed to this story.