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Asian Pacific American Caucus vice chair 'shocked and dismayed' GOP leader referred to 'Chinese coronavirus'

Asian Pacific American Caucus vice chair 'shocked and dismayed' GOP leader referred to 'Chinese coronavirus'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Grace MengGrace MengHouse passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus Clark rolls out endorsements in assistant Speaker race This week: House returns for pre-election sprint MORE (D-N.Y.), the vice chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, slammed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyConservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA may violate courts with new rule extending life of unlined coal ash ponds | Trump reverses course, approving assistance for California wildfires | Climate change, national security among topics for final Trump-Biden debate MORE (R-Calif.) for using the term “Chinese coronavirus” in a tweet. 

Meng called on McCarthy to apologize for the language she said was offensive. 

“I am shocked and dismayed that the GOP Leader in the House of Representatives has referred to the coronavirus as the ‘Chinese coronavirus,’” Meng said in a statement. “This labeling of the illness is embarrassing, disrespectful, offensive, and downright disgusting. It is shameful.”

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A spokesperson for McCarthy was not immediately available for comment.  

On Monday McCarthy tweeted a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the coronavirus, saying “everything you need to know about the Chinese coronavirus can be found on one, regularly-updated website.” 

The leaders of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Congressional native American Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus also called on McCarthy, as well as Rep. Paul Goasr (R-Ariz.) who called it the “Wuhan virus,” to apologize. 

Meng said she's warned the public against singling out the Asian American community as the first cases of the virus were reported in the U.S. 

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She also joined fellow members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in urging their colleagues against stoking xenophobia against Asian Americans as cases of the virus were confirmed in the country. 

In a joint letter to their colleagues last month, members of the caucus called on lawmakers to only share confirmed and verifiable information. The caucus members wrote that it is lawmakers' responsibility to "calm our constituents' fears, not stoke them."  

Meng said McCarthy’s “blatant disregard" for this plea "is truly stunning.” 

“Let’s be absolutely clear: this virus is neither the ‘Chinese coronavirus’ nor the ‘Wuhan virus,’ as yet another Republican Member called it,” she added, referencing a term Gosar, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo: 'Dangerous' for Twitter to take 'non-viewpoint-neutral' stance Pompeo warns any arms sales to Iran will result in sanctions as embargo expires Trump turns his ire toward Cabinet members MORE and Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonBarrett fight puts focus on abortion in 2020 election COVID outbreak threatens GOP's Supreme Court plans This week: Coronavirus complicates Senate's Supreme Court fight MORE (R-Ark.) have used, “it is the coronavirus – or COVID-19, plain and simple. Wrongly inserting ‘Chinese’ into the name of this disease only reinforces the disparaging and negative stereotypes of Asian Americans.”

Meng called on McCarthy to “immediately apologize” and stop using the “irresponsible” and “insulting” language. 

“Scapegoating and political expediency are never the answer – especially at the expense of respect and responsibility,” she said. 

“Calling the 2019 novel coronavirus the ‘Chinese’ or ‘Wuhan’ coronavirus is as descriptive as calling it the ‘CPAC coronavirus’ – that is to say not descriptive at all. Worse, it’s harmful,” said CAPAC Chair Judy ChuJudy May ChuDHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility Hispanic caucus report takes stock of accomplishments with eye toward 2021 Lawmakers of color blast Trump administration for reportedly instructing agencies to end anti-bias training MORE (D-Calif.), referencing the confirmed case of the virus from a person who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). 

Gosar is among lawmakers self-quarantined after learning he interacted with a CPAC attendee who has been hospitalized from the virus. 

CHC Chair Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroFormer DNC finance chairman Henry Muñoz: Latinos 'need to lead ourselves' Overnight Defense: Trump says he's leaving Walter Reed, 'feeling really good' after COVID-19 treatment | White House coronavirus outbreak grows | Dems expand probe into Pompeo speeches House Democrats push forward on probe of Pompeo's political speeches MORE (D-Texas) said he rejects McCarthy’s “racist rhetoric.” 

“No one should give credence to this false narrative about Asian-Americans or allow this crisis to divide our communities,” Castro added.

CBC Chair Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassPorter raises .2 million in third quarter Overnight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds Democrats push to limit transfer of military-grade gear to police MORE (D-Calif.) said lawmakers “must be extremely careful” of their words, “because words can have undesired consequences,” noting the examples of attacks on individual and Asian American-owned and operated businesses. 

“This is a time when we all need to come together as a nation,” she added 

Co-Chair of the Native American Caucus Rep. Deb HaalandDebra HaalandHispanic caucus report takes stock of accomplishments with eye toward 2021 Rep. Robin Kelly enters race for Democratic caucus vice chair OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push resolution to battle climate change, sluggish economy and racial injustice | Senators reach compromise on greenhouse gas amendment stalling energy bill | Trump courts Florida voters with offshore drilling moratorium MORE (D-N.M.) said McCarthy’s language “perpetuates racism” at a time when “we should be encouraging everyone to wash their hands and be vigilant when they don't feel well.” She said McCarthy should apologize to the entire Aisan American community. 

Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Barrett touts independence to sidestep confirmation questions Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Poll shows Biden leading Trump, tight House race in key Nebraska district MORE (D-Wisc.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalOcasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Poll shows Biden leading Trump, tight House race in key Nebraska district MORE (D-Wash.) said in a joint statement they are “apalled by the xenophobic tweets” about the virus from McCarthy and Gosar. 

“Referring to COVID-19 as the ‘Chinese’ or ‘Wuhan’ coronavirus serves no purpose other than to vilify innocent populations – Representatives McCarthy and Gosar should apologize for this vile and harmful language,” they said. 

The virus originated in Wuhan, China, and has since spread globally. More than 117,000 cases have been confirmed throughout the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

Nearly 800 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., according to the data.