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—.”
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on Tuesday that he’ll meet with Yoho to discuss the exchange.
“We think everybody should show respect to one another,” McCarthy said, when asked about Yoho’s comments.
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 report.