Yoho denied using the slur that was attributed to him in a report on the exchange by the Hill newspaper but said he was sorry if it was construed that way.
“Having been married for 45 years with two daughters, I’m very cognizant of my language,” Yoho said. “The offensive name-calling words attributed to me by the press were never spoken to my colleague, and if they were construed that way I apologize for their misunderstanding.”
Ocasio-Cortez seized on those words, saying in a tweet that Yoho was “blaming others” and “refusing responsibility.”
“I will not teach my nieces and young people watching that this an apology, and what they should learn to accept,” she wrote.
According to an account by a Hill reporter who overhead the conversation Monday, Yoho told Ocasio-Cortez that she was “out of your freaking mind” for describing poverty as a root cause of crime, prompting the congresswoman to later condemn what she described as Yoho’s “virulent harassment” of her.
According to the Hill, Yoho uttered the words “f---ing b---h” once Ocasio-Cortez was out of earshot. A spokesman for Yoho denied Tuesday that the congressman used the epithet and said he instead uttered the word “bulls---” to himself, describing his view of Ocasio-Cortez’s policies.
During his remarks Wednesday, Yoho appeared to become emotional as he described what he said was his experience with poverty, recounting that he and his wife used food stamps early in their marriage.
“I know the face of poverty, and for a time it was mine,” Yoho said, arguing that because of his experience, he knows that poor people can “rise up” without breaking the law.
“I cannot apologize for my passion or for loving my God, my family and my country,” he concluded.
The Hill report on the confrontation caused an uproar on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) called Yoho’s reported comments “despicable” and “unacceptable” and told reporters that the lawmaker should be sanctioned by the House, although he did not provide any details on what form such a sanction might take.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he was going to meet with Yoho on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the incident.
On Twitter on Tuesday morning, Ocasio-Cortez denounced Yoho’s behavior and criticized another GOP lawmaker, Rep. Roger Williams (Tex.), who was present for at least part of the exchange.
“I never spoke to Rep. Yoho before he decided to accost me on the steps of the nation’s Capitol yesterday,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “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.”
She accused Williams of joining Yoho in “yelling” at her and blasted the Texas Republican for later telling a reporter he had not been paying attention to the confrontation between the other two lawmakers.
Williams told the Hill that while he was walking down the steps with Yoho on Monday, he had been “thinking about some issues I’ve got in my district that need to get done” and had not paid much attention to what Yoho and Ocasio-Cortez were saying.