McCarthy says Ocasio-Cortez should accept Yoho’s apology
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday said that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) should accept Rep. Ted Yoho’s (R-Fla.) apology he issued from the House floor Wednesday, adding that he believes the gesture was appropriate and that the lower chamber should refocus on debating policy.
“I think that when someone apologizes, they should be forgiven,” McCarthy told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.
Yoho accosted Ocasio-Cortez on the steps of the Capitol building Monday, calling her “disgusting” and claiming that she was out of her mind for her stance on issues of crime and poverty during the pandemic.
The Hill reported Tuesday that after Yoho turned to walk away from the freshman lawmaker, he called her a “fucking bitch.”
Wednesday, the Florida Republican made a statement on the House floor Wednesday morning and apologized for the “abrupt manner” in which he confronted Ocasio-Cortez but said that he does not apologize for his “passion.”
Ocasio-Cortez later said she did not accept the apology.
McCarthy said he believes the New York Democrat should accept the apology, noting House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he thought that Ocasio-Cortez would appreciate Yoho’s words after his statement on the floor.
“I watched that Congressman Yoho went to the floor and apologized not once but twice to the congresswoman from New York. I watched the majority leader of the House accept his apology,” McCarthy said.
“In America, I know people make mistakes, we’re a forgiving nation. I also think when someone apologizes they should be forgiven — I don’t understand that we’re going to take another hour on the floor to debate whether the apology was good enough or not,” he said.
Late Thursday morning, Ocasio-Cortez, along with several other Democrats took to the floor for an hour to condemn Yoho’s words as sexist, with the progressive firebrand herself deeming the interaction as a cultural issue that permeates the Congress.
“This issue is not about one incident. It is cultural,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It is a culture of … impunity, of accepting of violence and violent language against women, and an entire structure of power that supports that.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), among others, also weighed in on the incident.
“We are not on the House floor today because of just one callous incident,” said Pressley. “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.”
McCarthy said that while the Democrats will take an hour to comment on the controversial exchange, they are unwilling to talk about other matters he believes are more pressing.
“He said he was sorry, he said I’m sorry to the congresswoman from New York. But the Democrats won’t take an hour to debate the accountability of China — they refute it. They don’t even give us a moment of time, but that’s what we’re spending an hour on,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said while he doesn’t agree with the language Yoho used, he feels the apology was sincere.
“Yes, he made a mistake, and yes we apologized for it. And yes, the majority leader accepted it. And yes, we have big work to do on this floor. People should not be called names, people should be treated with respect regardless of philosophical differences,” he continued.
“And I think it’s appropriate that he apologized and I think in a new world and a new age we now determine whether to accept when someone says I’m sorry, whether it’s a good enough apology for them.”