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Ocasio-Cortez excoriates Yoho in powerful floor speech after he directed sexist slur at her

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez responds to Rep. Yoho
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivered a speech from the House floor in which she rejected Rep. Ted Yoho's apology for reportedly calling her a sexist slur.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez excoriated Representative Ted Yoho on the House floor on Thursday morning after Yoho reportedly called her a sexist slur and accosted her over her remarks about the causes of escalating violence in New York City.

Yoho, a Florida Republican, apologized during a floor speech on Wednesday for his “abrupt manner,” but did not get more specific and later said he “cannot apologize for my passion.‘'

In an encounter that was witnessed by a reporter from The Hill newspaper, Yoho assailed New York Democrat Ocasio-Cortez 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, one of Congress’ most far-left lawmakers.

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On Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez delivered a speech from the House floor in which she rejected Yoho’s apology, repeating his slur on the House floor, and said his remarks were indicative of how men still feel entitled to disrespect women, even on the steps of the US Capitol.

“This is not new, and that is the problem. Mr. Yoho was not alone. He was walking shoulder to shoulder with Representative Roger Williams. And that’s when we start to see that this issue is not about one incident. It is cultural. It is a culture of lack of impunity. Of accepting violence and violent language against women. And an entire structure of power that supports that,” she said.

Ocasio-Cortez said she took issue with Yoho’s use of his wife and daughters “as shields and excuses for poor behavior.”

“I am someone’s daughter too. My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter. My mother got to see Mr. Yoho’s disrespect on the floor of this House towards me on television. And I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter. And they did not raise me to accept abuse from men,” she said.

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“When you do that to any woman, what Mr. Yoho did was give permission to other men to do that to his daughters,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “He gave permission to use that language against his wife, his daughters, women in his community. And I am here to stand up and say that is not acceptable.”

After her speech, a number of other lawmakers rose in support of Ocasio-Cortez, including Representative Ayanna Pressley, who condemned Yoho’s remarks.

“As the Congresswoman stated, we are not on the House floor today because of just one callous incident, unfortunately what brings us to this moment are the structural and cultural conditions — and yes, the very men — that have normalized the marginalization of women, and specifically women of color, since this nation’s very inception,” Pressley said.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.