[Congressional Record Volume 166, Number 130 (Thursday, July 23, 2020)]
[Pages H3702-H3708]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I seek recognition for a question 
of personal privilege.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair has been made aware of a valid 
basis for the gentlewoman's point of personal privilege.
  The gentlewoman from New York is recognized for 1 hour.
  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I would also like to thank many of 
my colleagues for the opportunity to not only speak today but for the 
many Members from both sides of the aisle who have reached out to me in 
support following an incident earlier this week.
  About 2 days ago, I was walking up the steps of the Capitol when 
Representative Yoho suddenly turned a corner, and he was accompanied by 
Representative Roger Williams, and accosted me on the steps right here 
in front of our Nation's Capitol.
  I was minding my own business, walking up the steps, and 
Representative Yoho put his finger in my face. He called me disgusting; 
he called me crazy; he called me out of my mind; and he called me 
  And then he took a few more steps, and after I had recognized his 
comments as rude, he walked away, and said: I'm rude? You are calling 
me rude?

[[Page H3703]]

  I took a few steps ahead, and I walked inside and cast my vote 
because my constituents send me here each and every day to fight for 
them and to make sure that they are able to keep a roof over their 
head, that they are able to feed their families, and that they are able 
to carry their lives with dignity.
  I walked back out, and there were reporters in the front of the 
Capitol. And in front of reporters, Representative Yoho called me, and 
I quote, ``a fucking bitch.''
  These are the words that Representative Yoho levied against a 
Congresswoman, a Congresswoman that not only represents New York's 14th 
Congressional District but every Congresswoman and every woman in this 
country because all of us have had to deal with this in some form, some 
way, some shape, at some point in our lives.
  And I want to be clear that Representative Yoho's comments were not 
deeply hurtful or piercing to me because I have worked a working-class 
job; I have waited tables in restaurants; I have ridden the subway; I 
have walked the streets in New York City, and this kind of language is 
not new.
  I have encountered words uttered by Mr. Yoho and men uttering the 
same words as Mr. Yoho while I was being harassed in restaurants. I 
have tossed men out of bars that have used language like Mr. Yoho's, 
and I have encountered this type of harassment riding the subway in New 
York City.
  This is not new, and that is the problem.
  Mr. Yoho was not alone. He was walking shoulder-to-shoulder with 
Representative Roger Williams.

                              {time}  1030

  And that is when we start to see that this issue is not about one 
incident. It is cultural. It is a culture of lack of impunity, of 
accepting of violence and violent language against women and an entire 
structure of power that supports that.
  Because not only have I been spoken to disrespectfully, particularly 
by Members of the Republican Party and elected officials in the 
Republican Party--not just here, but the President of the United States 
last year told me to ``go home'' to another country, was the 
implication, that I don't even belong in America. The Governor of 
Florida, Governor DeSantis, before I even was sworn in, called me a 
``whatever that is.''
  Dehumanizing language is not new, and what we are seeing is that 
incidents like these are happening in a pattern. This is a pattern of 
an attitude towards women and dehumanization of others.
  So while I was not deeply hurt or offended by little comments that 
are made, when I was reflecting on this, I honestly thought that I was 
just going to pack it up and go home. It is just another day, right?
  But then, yesterday, Representative Yoho decided to come to the floor 
of the House of Representatives and make excuses for his behavior, and 
that I could not let go. I could not allow my nieces, I could not allow 
the little girls that I go home to, I could not allow victims of verbal 
abuse and worse to see that, to see that excuse and to see our Congress 
accept it as legitimate and accept it as an apology and to accept 
silence as a form of acceptance. I could not allow that to stand, which 
is why I am rising today to raise this point of personal privilege.
  And I do not need Representative Yoho to apologize to me. Clearly, he 
does not want to. Clearly, when given the opportunity, he will not. And 
I will not stay up late at night waiting for an apology from a man who 
has no remorse over calling women and using abusive language towards 
women. But what I do have issue with is using women, our wives and 
daughters, as shields and excuses for poor behavior.
  Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters. I am 2 years 
younger than Mr. Yoho's youngest daughter. I am someone's daughter, 
  My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his 
daughter. My mother got to see Mr. Yoho's disrespect on the floor of 
this House towards me on television. And I am here because I have to 
show my parents that I am their daughter and that they did not raise me 
to accept abuse from men.
  Now, what I am here to say is that this harm that Mr. Yoho tried to 
levy against me was not just an incident directed at me, but when you 
do that to any woman, what Mr. Yoho did was give permission to other 
men to do that to their daughters.
  In using that language in front of the press, he gave permission to 
use that language against his wife, his daughters, women in his 
community, and I am here to stand up to say that is not acceptable.
  I do not care what your views are. It does not matter how much I 
disagree or how much it incenses me or how much I feel that people are 
dehumanizing others, I will not do that myself. I will not allow people 
to change and create hatred in our hearts.
  And so what I believe is that having a daughter does not make a man 
decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with 
dignity and respect makes a decent man. And when a decent man messes 
up, as we all are bound to do, he tries his best and does apologize--
not to save face, not to win a vote. He apologizes genuinely to repair 
and acknowledge the harm done so that we can all move on.
  Lastly, what I want to express to Mr. Yoho is gratitude. I want to 
thank him for showing the world that you can be a powerful man and 
accost women. You can have daughters and accost women without remorse. 
You can be married and accost women. You can take photos and project an 
image to the world of being a family man and accost women without 
remorse and with a sense of impunity.
  It happens every day in this country. It happened here on the steps 
of our Nation's Capitol. It happens when individuals who hold the 
highest office in this land admit to hurting women and using this 
language against all of us.
  Once again, I thank my colleagues for joining us today.
  Madam Speaker, I yield to my colleague from Washington (Ms. Jayapal).
  Ms. JAYAPAL. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.
  Madam Speaker, that was brilliance, grace, intelligence, and complete 
dedication to what justice, equality, and dignity in the United States 
looks like. That is our colleague, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and we are 
so grateful to her for her voice.
  What my colleague from Florida did was unacceptable. It was violent. 
It was sexist. And I do believe he needs to apologize, not because it 
is going to make our colleague, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, feel any better, but 
because he, too, needs to learn what unacceptable behavior looks like 
and rise to the level of the office that he has been elected to. It 
does not dignify just him, but the 750,000 people that he represents.
  And I thought, Madam Speaker, that it would be good to review for my 
colleagues a little bit of the history of the word that was used, the 
word that begins with a b that is five letters and that rhymes with 
``witch,'' that word.
  From 1915 to 1930, Madam Speaker, that word suddenly took off in 
usage in newspaper reports and articles. And do you know why? Because, 
in 1920, this body gave women the right to vote, and that was just a 
little too much power for too many men across the country.
  And so all of a sudden, that word rose in prominence because, God 
forbid, that women would have the right to vote, that we would have 
power in this body, that we would have power anywhere in this country. 
God forbid, that women would actually have a voice to speak out on 
issues that matter and be the arbiters of what is fair and right and 
spoken with dignity and truism. And so that is when that word started 
to take off.

  Now, I want to be clear that this violent language is about power. It 
is about power. It is about exerting power. It is about wielding power 
over people. It is about fear of people who may well be smarter than 
you, harder working than you, and more dedicated to achieving justice 
than you. It just may be that. It may be that fear. It is about 
diminishing and disrespecting when you have no other tools to do so.
  And it is not new. Madam Speaker, you were right here managing time 
on this floor when I, as a new Member of Congress, was told by one of 
my Republican colleagues that I was a young lady, and I didn't know a 
damn thing about what I was talking about. You

[[Page H3704]]

were right here managing the time for our side, and you helped me 
through that moment. Thank you. And I did get an apology on this floor 
from my colleague across the aisle.
  I was also told in Judiciary Committee to learn how to read by 
another one of my Members across the aisle. These are the things that 
happen to us all the time. These are not jokes. They are not little 
things, not because they hurt us--we are way too strong for that--but 
because they say something about the caliber of person that is here in 
the United States Congress.
  Do you know, Madam Speaker, out of the 11,000 people who have ever 
served in the United States Congress, there are only 79 of us women of 
color who have ever served in this body. And, yes, we bring a new 
  And so I say to my colleague, Representative Ocasio-Cortez, thank you 
for your grace and for your brilliance and for your dignity.
  And to everybody who is out there watching us and to our colleagues 
across the aisle, let me say this: We are not going away. There are 
going to be more of us here. There is going to be more power in the 
hands of women across this country. And we are going to continue to 
speak up. We are going to continue to say, ``Madam Speaker.'' We are 
going to continue to have a voice for people so that everyday working 
people, our daughters and our mothers and our wives across the country, 
understand that somebody is standing up for them.
  So, Madam Speaker, I believe Mr. Yoho should apologize. I have been 
on a trip with him across the globe. I never thought I would hear this 
kind of language from him. I really didn't. And I am stunned, and yet, 
at the same time, it is a pattern, and it is an old pattern.
  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I thank Representative Jayapal for 
giving context of how these words and this language have always been 
levied towards the ascent of women and women who are ascending in 
  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from New York (Ms. 
Velazquez), another phenomenal leader from my own home State.
  Ms. VELAZQUEZ. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.
  My friends, at times like this, it will benefit us all to remember 
what the word ``Congress'' actually means. ``Congress'' means a coming 
together. That is the entire point of this institution.
  People from different regions of the country, with varying political 
views, individuals of different backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual 
orientations, and, yes, genders come together to solve problems on 
behalf of the American people who elect us.
  That is where the word ``Congress'' originates from. A coming 
  We will frequently disagree heatedly. We argue on this floor and in 
committee hearings and meetings. We may even disagree on the steps of 
the Capitol. However, let us disagree agreeably.
  The words being discussed today did not live up to those ideals, and 
the gentleman must say that he is sorry. He must apologize. It is not 
to apologize to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He must apologize to his 
wife, to his daughters, to women in this country.
  Today, our political discourse is too often infected with an anger 
and a malice unbecoming of our democratic traditions. As elected 
officials, we are expected to do better, to act as an example of how we 
can debate passionately but treat one another with compassion, dignity, 
and respect.
  It saddens me that the words that we are discussing today failed to 
live up to that standard.
  For those reasons, Madam Speaker, I stand with my friend from New 
York in condemning the remarks that were made.
  Madam Speaker, I ask all of us to do better. We must do better.

                              {time}  1045

  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I would take a moment to thank 
Representative Velazquez for her precedent and her leadership as well. 
Before I was a young Puerto Rican woman upending an incumbent, 
Velazquez was as well.
  Every single one of us, as women, have to stand on the shoulders and 
the efforts made by other women who had to fight--fight hatred, fight 
patriarchy, fight hateful men--in order to simply exist in bodies like 
  So, Madam Speaker, I also thank not only Representative Velazquez, 
but Representative Lawrence, who is a leader in the Women's Caucus, 
ensuring that others and other women who will walk through these doors 
not just today but in generations to come, continue to be protected and 
  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Michigan (Mrs. 
  Mrs. LAWRENCE. Madam Speaker, I stand here today in support of women.
  I stand here today condemning the words of, unfortunately, a 
colleague of mine.
  I want to reflect on history.
  The first African-American woman was elected in 1968, the first 
Hispanic woman in 1989. Madam Speaker, we are here to stay. This year 
is the 100th year that women have had the right to vote.
  For far too long, women and people of color have been subjected to 
being mistreated, humiliated, and trying desperately with words to 
minimize us.
  Women of color have traditionally been excluded from the Halls of 
Congress, but I am here today saying, in a Congress where we have the 
largest number of diversity in women in the history of this Congress, 
our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power.
  We will see, today, speakers coming to this mike. Yes, we are 
standing up because of the words of one Member, but I am standing here 
today after generations of assault, generations of abuse, and I stand 
here proud, as a survivor.
  Our constituents expect leadership, not schoolyard bullying, from 
their elected colleagues.
  Almost 100 years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the 
Constitution and now, at a time when this body is the most diverse it 
has ever been, this is the time we should be celebrating each other, 
thanking God that we have opportunities to serve with legends like John 
Lewis; but, instead, we are trying to roll back the clock with behavior 
that is unacceptable.
  I am the little Black girl from the east side of Detroit who was 
raised by a woman who is the grandchild of an emancipated slave. I am 
not scared of you. I will call you out. I demand respect, and I will 
respect you.
  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Michigan 
(Representative Lawrence) for her comments.
  As I had indicated earlier, having a daughter does not make a decent 
man, having a wife does not make a decent man, but treating people with 
dignity and respect makes a decent man. I am incredibly thankful to 
have the honor and privilege to serve with decent men in this body each 
and every day.
  Madam Speaker, it is an honor and I am thankful to serve with 
Representative Al Green, who is a sterling example of such a decent 
  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Green).
  Mr. GREEN of Texas. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for this 
opportunity, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.
  Madam Speaker, I am 72 years old. I have no children. But if I had a 
daughter, I would name her Alexandria, because my name is Alexander.
  If I had a daughter, I would want her to be bold; I would want her to 
be courageous; I would want her to speak truth to power; I would want 
her to be just like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The name means helper of 
humankind, and that is what she is about the business of doing.
  Madam Speaker, I salute Ms. Ocasio-Cortez for the positions that she 
has taken.
  Madam Speaker, this is not the first time we have heard this ``b'' 
word used by people in positions of authority. A higher office in this 
country has corrupted the discourse. It came from a higher office, and 
we all took it for granted. We just assumed, well, that is just a 
person saying something.
  ``SOB": You are talking about the mother. This is unacceptable. It is 
absolutely unacceptable.
  I believe that we must change the tide of discourse in the country, 
and I believe that what Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has said is something that 
all of us should take notice of.
  She spoke from her heart, as she usually does, by the way--a 
brilliant head with a compassionate heart.

[[Page H3705]]

  Madam Speaker, I am proud of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. I will stand with her 
not only today, but in the future. I don't have to agree with 
everything she says to respect her dignity, to respect her humanity.
  And finally this. I grew up in a home where scatology was 
commonplace. I don't think ``scatologist'' is a word, but if such a 
word existed, there were many scatologists in my home. ``Scatology'' is 
a word.
  I learned early on how that impacts the psyche of people. We cannot 
allow what happened to go unnoticed, which is why I am here today.
  Madam Speaker, this scatology with the ``b'' word is something that 
demeans every woman when it is used. I will stand against it, and I 
will stand with the Honorable Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I thank Representative Green for 
his comments. His words brought tears to my eyes.
  I think that the relationship particularly between fathers and 
daughters is a very sacred one, and it is a very special one. But I 
also know, if my father were publicly using that language to another 
woman, particularly my age, but any woman, I would tell him that he 
needed to apologize and that his behavior was reprehensible and 

  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. 
  Ms. SPEIER. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.
  I want to compliment her on a profound, articulate, and accurate 
statement of what is wrong with what is going on in this country and 
what is going on wrong in this body.
  As one of the co-chairs of the Democratic Women's Caucus, I stand 
here as the author of the letter, along with my colleagues, calling on 
Mr. Yoho to apologize, demanding an apology from him to Ms. Ocasio-
Cortez. He didn't give an apology yesterday, as Ms. Ocasio-Cortez 
  We really are at a watershed moment in this body. We have mourned the 
loss of two great leaders of this body. John Lewis, we sat on this 
floor last night for hours on both sides of the aisle talking about his 
greatness. And what did he call us? He called us a family. A family 
does not talk to each other as Mr. Yoho had talked to Ms. Ocasio-
  We mourn the loss of Congressman Elijah Cummings, who said, ``We are 
better than this.''
  We are better than this. We are the most diverse Congress ever in the 
history of this country. Twenty-four percent of us are women; 8 percent 
of us are women of color.
  Now, where does this all come from? It comes from the top. It comes 
from the White House, who calls women ``crazy Nancy'' or ``such a nasty 
woman'' or ``a low-IQ person'' of a colleague of ours who serves as the 
chair of a committee, a ``crazed, crying lowlife.''
  Our colleague, Mr. Yoho, conducted himself like a hit-and-run driver, 
and he does not want to take responsibility for his conduct. I believe 
he must take responsibility for his conduct.
  We are not, as women in this House, going anywhere. We are here to 
stay. We belong here, and we will demand respect for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez 
and every other woman in this House who has been demeaned by a 
colleague, whether a Democrat or a Republican. It is not right, and we 
can do better.
  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from 
Wisconsin (Mr. Pocan), who is also the co-chair of the Congressional 
Progressive Caucus and another wonderful champion for all people.
  Mr. POCAN. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.
  Earlier this week, a Member of this body attacked another Member over 
their viewpoint, but it wasn't the ordinary debate over ideology. It 
turned personal and misogynistic all too quickly.
  What was the egregious offense? She said what we all know to be true: 
that poverty is a leading path to crime; that if you can't pay your 
rent or feed your family, you will do whatever you have to do to 
survive, and you could turn to crime so you aren't homeless or so your 
family doesn't starve. That is called survival.
  Thanks to our Nation's disastrous response to COVID-19, more people 
aren't working, and that will cause poverty--pretty simple, honest 
  Well, one Member not only took offense to that truism, but they also 
took offense to the person who said it, in the most frightening manner. 
They started to attack a person not just for their values, but for who 
they are, with the most antiquated view and response I have seen in 
this body.
  By swearing at someone and calling them an f-ing b, you don't 
denigrate the person you are attacking as much as you denigrate 
yourself and, honestly, this institution.
  By not properly apologizing for that incident, you further dig 
yourself into a dinosaur-sized misogynistic hole.
  For the Republican Party to not deal with that Member swiftly and 
strongly, they show a greater problem with their party.
  It is likely not a coincidence that half of this body looks more like 
a ``Mad Men'' episode than a representative governing body for the 
greatest Nation on the planet.
  Madam Speaker, I am so proud to serve with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 
and every other woman and woman of color in this body. This country is 
not just made up of older, White, wealthy men alone. We are a rich 
tapestry of genders, races, sexual orientations, economic backgrounds, 
and more.
  We can't be afraid to look like the very country we represent, and 
smart women, smart women of color, shouldn't make anybody afraid. They 
should make everyone proud of our Nation and proud that we finally--
finally--are starting to look more like it.
  If our actions in this body on issues like COVID if done improperly 
can lead to joblessness and poverty and could lead to more hunger and 
homelessness and, potentially, crime, if that truth, combined with the 
truth teller who looks like the Nation as a whole as opposed to this 
Congress, if that scares anyone, well, then they should learn how not 
to be scared or figure out their next career, because we have got more 
of this coming: truth telling and representative democracy. It couldn't 
be coming quickly enough.
  Madam Speaker, I thank Ms. Ocasio-Cortez for giving me this 
opportunity to speak.
  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I thank Representative Pocan for 
his brilliance.
  Madam Speaker, I think the gentleman brings up such an excellent 
point, something we had all seen, that what we are seeing here is a 
resounding rejection of abuse and accosting of women.
  But why is this only happening from one party?

                              {time}  1100

  This should not be a partisan issue. Yet, when Mr. Yoho walked down 
those steps and accosted me, and used these words, he was next to a 
Republican colleague, and that Republican colleague did nothing. Not 
only did that colleague do nothing, he pretended he didn't even hear 
it, when he had, in fact, jumped in. So not only did a person do it, 
but a bystander did nothing.
  And I have yet to hear from the leader of the Republican Party 
personally. I have yet to have gotten a call from Representative 
McCarthy addressing his Member's behavior. I have yet to see Republican 
colleagues standing up for their daughters and saying that this 
behavior was unacceptable.
  So, in the resounding standing and loud calls for justice, equally 
loud is the silence and the pin drop from the Republican Party about 
this type of misconduct.
  No matter because, with that, we have an incredible champion for 
women, for men, for gender nonconforming people, and for justice, and I 
am proud to call her my sister.
  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Massachusetts (Ms. 
  Ms. PRESSLEY. Madam Speaker, I rise today to condemn in the strongest 
form the vulgar language and blatant disrespect a colleague directed at 
Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez.
  As the Congresswoman stated, we are not on the House floor today 
because of just one callous incident. 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.

[[Page H3706]]

  Madam Speaker, patriarchy, is a tool of oppression that is very much 
at home in the halls of this powerful institution; not unlike the 
hostile working environments and harassment experienced by countless 
women across the Nation who dare to speak truth to power.
  Today, we rise for every woman that has dealt with these dynamics as 
a conflated part of their walk in life; every woman that has repressed 
the painful rhetoric inflicted on our bodies and our lives.
  So, suffice it to say that these tired tactics to debase and 
marginalize are familiar. And, yet, still, we rise.
  Our foremothers, the trailblazing women elected to Congress before 
us, equipped us to take on a world that was built on contradictions and 
injustice. Because of them, we have learned how to walk with our heads 
held high; our legacy defined by the laws we write and the good we do 
on behalf of those we serve.
  I first set foot in this institution at the age of 19. My mother 
poured into me a sense of reverence for this institution, of the 
awesome power that it held. I walked through hallways, and still do, 
flanked by the statues of men that enslaved my ancestors, in a building 
built by my enslaved ancestors.
  Madam Speaker, while there may still be some specters in this hallway 
set on upholding oppression and misogyny, I know that when my 12-year 
old daughter walks through these hallways today, she sees my name 
embossed on a plaque outside the door and lit up on the voting board 
above this House floor. And she sees Tlaib, and Omar, and Chu, and 
Jayapal, and Escobar, and Trahan, and Underwood. Our very existence is 
proof that progress has been made.
  And yet, although in some instances we are better than we used to be, 
we are still not who we can be. And so, with my eyes fixed clear on the 
challenges of the moment, but clearer still on the promise of the 
future, I speak to our daughters, for they are watching and carefully 
taking note of how we respond in this moment.
  So, in this moment, I say to my Cora, and all our daughters, you are 
powerful. You are limitless. Your contributions to this world are 
brilliant, needed, and uniquely yours. Your ideas are substantive. Your 
lived experiences, your kind heart, and your critical eye belong at 
every single table where decisions are being made.
  You deserve a life free from fear and filled with dignity and love. 
You are not defined by your productivity or your chosen work.
  We affirm these truths to be self-evident that women are the backbone 
of every family, of our communities, and we are nation builders. We 
believe in you fully, without reservation. You have a right to show up 
in the world exactly as you are. And who you are is always enough. 
Cora, you belong everywhere.
  And I will close with the words of Reverend William Barber who aptly 
points out that we find ourselves, as a Nation, in a moment of 
reckoning, a reckoning which calls for reconstruction. Old fights, but 
this is a new day.
  Let's build the world that Cora and all girls and women deserve and 
let us begin with this very institution.
  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from 
California (Ms. Judy Chu).
  Ms. JUDY CHU of California. Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of 
my friend and colleague, Representative Ocasio-Cortez, but most of all, 
I rise in support of basic human decency.
  I condemn remarks that are disrespectful and offensive; and recent 
remarks reflected a hostility that should alarm my colleagues on both 
sides of the aisle.
  It is not expected that everyone in this Chamber agrees with each 
other. It is expected, however, that we treat each other with dignity 
and respect. There should never be a reason that anyone fails to meet 
this low bar.
  Turning policy disputes into personal disputes is dangerous. As 
leaders, we risk inciting violence in others. As Congress Members, it 
indicates a focus more on fighting than governing.
  We should never utter comments that are misogynistic and hateful to 
any Congress Member. This week, it was Congress Member Ocasio-Cortez, 
but if we don't speak out against this, tomorrow it could be any 
Congress Member who is a woman or person of color; and that is why this 
must end now.
  If any such ugly curse words are uttered, decorum dictates that there 
should be an apology, a real apology, a sincere apology, not words that 
simply deflect and blame others.

  On the great seal of the United States, it says, ``e pluribus unum;'' 
out of many, one. Disagreement and different perspectives were baked 
into this country, and it is our ability to work with others that we do 
not always agree with that has allowed America to be the beacon of 
hope. We should never betray these values of unity, despite 
  Congress Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez deserves respect. Congress 
Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez deserves a real apology now.
  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, once again, I am so thankful to all 
of our colleagues who are coming and standing up today, again, not just 
for one incident, but for all of us in this country.
  I yield to the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Wasserman Schultz).
  Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for 
yielding, and I stand here in support of her courage.
  I rise to remind every man and woman on this floor that we were sent 
to Washington to destroy hostile work environments, not build them.
  Few women here, or watching, have not felt a man's bullying breath or 
menacing finger in our face as we were told exactly what our place was 
at work. I certainly saw and felt it as a 20-something lawmaker and had 
a highly public, similar experience here in the Halls of Congress as a 
30-something Member, once again, from a then-Florida Member of 
Congress. That former Member was just elected as the Chair of the 
Republican Party of Texas, by the way; so bullies continue advancing 
  Today, we take a stand for my colleague and friend, Ms. Ocasio-
Cortez, and all women who endure this archaic behavior. Today, we take 
a stand and say enough is enough.
  Sadly, most capitols, including this one, endure this archaic 
behavior, and we must stand shoulder to shoulder to say that today is 
the last day that we will tolerate it.
  Sadly, most capitols, including this one, are still undeniably boys' 
clubs, but women have critical numbers now, my friends, and all of us, 
women and men, have had it with bullies.
  The Halls of Congress are not middle school playgrounds. We have 
serious business to do. People across the country are sick, dying, 
unemployed, and facing eviction; yet, misogyny was this Member's 
highest priority messaging. Unbelievable. I guess really not 
  It is a new day, gentlemen, and I use that term loosely with some 
cases. So just to reminder for those who still want to wield the 
workplace tool of intimidation, your time is up.
  To my sisters on this floor, and listening at home, to my daughters, 
listening at home, we must not let those who may be intimidated by our 
strength scare us away.
  I am proud of and proud to stand by my colleague and friend, 
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez today.
  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from 
Massachusetts (Mrs. Trahan).
  Mrs. TRAHAN. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.
  Madam Speaker, we can disagree on issues that we face as a Nation, 
and we can disagree on the policies and the prescriptions that we 
develop to fix them. In fact, this very body was built on the belief 
that productive tension and spirited debate would force legislators to 
do the hard work of creating laws that will benefit all Americans.
  For centuries, the House of Representatives has rejected personal 
attacks like those hurled at Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez on the steps 
of the U.S. Capitol earlier this week. This institution has maintained 
rules that hold us, as Members of Congress, to a higher standard 
because that is what the hardworking people we represent expect from 
us, and that is what we owe to them.
  Madam Speaker, when we learn of the kind of personal attack levied 
against Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, we cannot sit idly by. We cannot

[[Page H3707]]

let it go unaddressed, as many of us women have long been expected to 
do. We must call it out. We must demand accountability, like we are 
here today. That is what we owe to all women, especially to our 
  We have to send the message loud and clear because, apparently, 
people still aren't getting it. The days of bullying women you disagree 
with, whether it is in a boardroom, in a newsroom, or a military base, 
or in these hallowed Halls of Congress, are over.
  If my colleagues on the other side of the aisle don't believe me, 
watch as we continue winning in districts across America. Watch as 
women band together to say enough to being publicly humiliated simply 
because they disagree. And watch as we make up for lost time by course-
correcting the behaviors that women like us have had to endure so that 
our daughters, and yours, will never have to.
  I want to thank my fearless colleague for the grace, the courage, and 
the intellect that she brings to this Chamber every day.
  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from 
Maryland (Mr. Hoyer), our majority leader, who has stood up for every 
Member in this body, and for decency across parties.
  Mr. HOYER. Madam Speaker, this is an issue of who we are as a people. 
Many women have spoken on this floor, but this is an issue for fathers. 
This is an issue for sons. This is an issue for brothers.
  I have three daughters, two granddaughters, and three great 
granddaughters. They must not be confronted with this kind of attack, 
and that is what it was.
  Some have tried to demonize the gentlewoman from New York who does, 
in fact, bring the intellect, the passion, and the focus on issues 
surprisingly that the gentleman mentioned yesterday in his non-apology. 
All the men on this side of the aisle are supportive of Alexandria 
Ocasio-Cortez and all of her sisters and all of her mothers as well.

                              {time}  1115

  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from New 
Jersey (Ms. Sherrill).
  Ms. SHERRILL. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from New York 
for yielding.
  Madam Speaker, the 116th Congress has the largest number of women 
serving in this body's history: 101 women serving in the House and 26 
women in the Senate. This historic class of women represents the broad 
and diverse America that we live in.
  We are all public servants. We all came here to serve our country and 
our communities. I frequently disagree with colleagues, but policy 
differences are no excuse for personal attacks, and we know that some 
of the harshest personal attacks are often reserved for women of color. 
Furthermore, telling a woman, ``I am sorry you heard it that way,'' is 
a cliche as old as time to belittle and dismiss women after attacking 
  We have got to do better. We are role models for our children. I am 
standing here not just for my two daughters but for my two sons. We 
have got to do better.
  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from 
California (Ms. Lee).
  Ms. LEE of California. Madam Speaker, first of all, let me just say, 
I rise today to support not only my colleague, Congresswoman Alexandria 
Ocasio-Cortez, but I rise in strong support of this privileged 
  As an African-American woman, first let me just say that I personally 
have experienced a lifetime of insults, racism, and sexism. And believe 
you me, Madam Speaker, this did not stop after being elected to public 
  It is past time that this body understands that women of color are 
here to stay. Congresswoman AOC is here to stay. It is past time that 
this House recognizes that women will not tolerate these personal 
attacks and insist that we be treated with the respect due to anyone in 
this House representing over 700,000 people.
  The impact of using this language against any woman dehumanizes women 
and girls and sends the message to other men that women are valued less 
than a human being.
  Now, my mentor, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm from Brooklyn, New 
York, was the first Black woman elected to Congress. As a member of the 
late Congressman Ron Dellums' staff, I spent many years on Capitol Hill 
and witnessed the personal attacks and curse words against her as a 
Black female Member of Congress.
  But do you know what, Madam Speaker? Just like the gentlewoman, she 
would not tolerate such behavior, and she had to fight, oftentimes 
alone, against such despicable language and behavior.
  Well, we are here today with the Congresswoman. We are here 
supporting her right to speak out, to represent her constituents, and 
to be who she is: a brave and bold Member of Congress, which we know 
her to be.
  Now, the gentleman from Florida, yes, he must apologize to the 
Congresswoman. He must apologize, though, to all the little girls who 
aspire to be who they are without being called disgusting names and 
without barriers to keep their voices silent.
  Madam Speaker, I close with reading you just one verse of our beloved 
Dr. Maya Angelou's poem, ``Still I Rise.'' I am reminded of the 
gentlewoman today.

     You may shoot me with your words,
     You may cut me with your eyes,
     You may kill me with your hatefulness,
     But still, like air, I'll rise.

  So, yes, the Congresswoman has risen once again.
  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I thank Representative Lee not just 
for her comments but for her leadership.
  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Minnesota (Ms. Omar), 
who is another incredible, resilient, and passionate leader.
  Ms. OMAR. Madam Speaker, I am here not only to defend my friend and 
colleague, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; I am here on behalf of women 
around the world. This is not just about one woman, one incident, or 
one verbal assaulter. This is about respect and fundamental equality.
  Like Alexandria, I was raised by a dignified man who told me that I 
deserved equality because I was an equal human being to my brothers. I 
am appalled often, like Alex was, when we hear men say: I would never 
do this because I have a wife, I have a daughter, I have sisters.
  Madam Speaker, you don't only respect women because they could be 
your mother, they could be your wife, and they could be your sister. 
No. You respect women because they are equal human beings to you. That 
is how my father raised me, and that is how Alexandria's father raised 
  Nearly every woman in the world has experienced verbal abuse, not 
just once, but since they were little girls. We experience it on 
playgrounds; we experience it in workplaces; and we experience it in 
our social media feeds. We see it coming regularly from the President 
of the United States, and now we see it coming from his partisan 
lackeys. From birth, little girls are sent the message that they don't 
  In this body, we have seen men who are afraid of Muslim women like me 
and Rashida Tlaib because we say proudly that you cannot ban us from 
this country because we pray differently than you. They are afraid of 
women everywhere fighting systems of repression and sexual harassment 
through the Me Too movement. They are afraid not just of us but of 
losing their own power.
  It is no accident that Alex was verbally abused for speaking up for 
poverty in her district and its relation to unrest because when you 
push power, power pushes back. When we speak for people from 
marginalized communities, we understand, as people who come from those 
marginalized communities, that is a threat to those who wield power 
against marginalized communities.
  So, we are here to say that we will not allow sexism, misogyny, and 
patriarchy to hold us back. We will not apologize for advocating for 
women everywhere. We will not apologize for claiming the power that 
women deserved for centuries. And we will send a message to our 
daughters and their daughters that they deserve fundamental equality.

  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I thank so many Members who have 
shown up today in support. Although not everyone has been able to

[[Page H3708]]

speak, Representatives Castro, DeLauro, and Barragan have also risen, 
along with many, many others, and I appreciate everyone's presence.
  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Massachusetts (Ms. 
  Ms. CLARK of Massachusetts. Madam Speaker, as we all know, sexism 
isn't new to Congress, and it is not new to America. It happens in 
homes, in schools, and in all places of work.
  The behavior, the language, and the assault wielded against my 
colleague was disgusting, inappropriate, and endemic of the toxic 
masculinity that permeates our culture and our country.
  Slurs like the one used by Representative Yoho are meant to degrade, 
objectify, and belittle women. It was an attempt to dismiss her, her 
role in this body, and her position altogether.
  All women have experienced this to some degree, but so often, it is 
women of color who are singled out. When we hear comments like this, 
men and boys think it is appropriate. Women and girls expect it.
  Today, we stand with our colleague. We will not accept this behavior 
anymore. We will not be made to feel less than. This is our House, and 
we are claiming our space.
  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from 
Michigan (Ms. Tlaib).
  Ms. TLAIB. Madam Speaker, I rise today as a proud Member of this 
body, as a woman of color, and as a sister in service to my colleague, 
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was verbally assaulted by a 
Member of this same Chamber.
  Gaslighting my colleague in our country won't work here. I rise to 
tell my sister in service: I believe you. I believe you not just 
because reporters happened to be standing there to hear the sexist 
attack, but because I believe women across our country when they tell 
us of the violence they experience at the workplace.
  Violence against women in politics specifically is a global problem. 
I know. I would invite any of my colleagues across the aisle to answer 
the calls into my office for just 1 day to hear the vile sexist remarks 
made about me and other women serving in this Chamber.
  When my colleague from Florida made the remark in question, he echoed 
and perpetuated those sexist and violent calls.
  Madam Speaker, we must condemn in the strongest terms possible this 
kind of violent sexism so that women and girls across the country know 
that there is no room for it in any workplace, not in Congress, not 
  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my