House leaders in both parties moved swiftly on Tuesday to promote civility — and tamp down lingering tensions — by challenging a conservative lawmaker who had accosted a liberal Democrat on the Capitol steps a day earlier. Confronting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Monday, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) had called her “disgusting” and “out of her freaking mind” for promoting the notion that poverty and unemployment have spawned a recent uptick in crime in New York. Moments later, as he walked away, Yoho referred to her with a crude, sexist slur. The House, while a more rambunctious chamber than the sober Senate, nonetheless has its own norms of etiquette and rules of decorum. And party leaders made clear that Yoho’s conduct had crossed a line. “We need to pursue this kind of conduct and make it very clear it is unacceptable,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), suggesting Yoho apologize on the House floor. “I think it was despicable conduct that needs to be sanctioned.”
Hours later, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) summoned Yoho to his office to discuss the incident. “We think everybody should show respect to one another, and not knowing what took place I’ll have a discussion with him to see what happened,” McCarthy told reporters shortly beforehand.
This morning, he offered a qualified apology.