Washington (AFP) - A Republican lawmaker courted controversy Tuesday after he was accused of hurling a sexist slur at Democratic rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during a tense exchange on the Capitol steps.
Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida and the progressive Ocasio-Cortez had a strained exchange on Monday about her statements linking rising crime in New York to poverty brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
A journalist from The Hill, a political news outlet, who witnessed the exchange said Yoho told Ocasio-Cortez: "You are out of your freaking mind."
He then called her "disgusting" and a "fucking bitch," the reporter said.
A spokesman for Yoho confirmed to AFP that the two lawmakers had "a brief member-to-member conversation on the steps of the Capitol."
"He did not call Representative Ocasio-Cortez what has been reported in The Hill or any name for that matter," the spokesman said.
"He made a brief comment to himself as he walked away summarizing what he believes her policies to be: bullshit."
Ocasio-Cortez, who at 30 is the youngest member of the current US Congress, meanwhile confirmed the use of the offensive term.
"I never spoke to Rep. Yoho before he decided to accost me on the steps of the nation's Capitol yesterday," she said on Twitter. "But hey, 'b*tches' get stuff done."
Ocasio-Cortez told The Hill: "That kind of confrontation hasn't ever happened to me -- ever."
"I've never had that kind of abrupt, disgusting kind of disrespect levied at me," she added.
Steny Hoyer, the Democratic majority leader in the House of Representatives under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, called Yoho's actions "despicable" and "unacceptable."
"His classless, sexist, boorish behavior toward @AOC has no place in Congress," tweeted fellow Democratic lawmaker Debbie Wasserman Schultz.