On Tuesday, Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), took to Twitter after an incident with one of her colleagues at the Capitol. In the thread, she wrote:
Appearing on CNN, Beatty spoke further on the matter, saying “I was very surprised, to tell you the truth…I was very surprised because in asking him to put his mask on, please, for him to have that type of attitude, it’s unacceptable…And I have no tolerance for bullying and I also believe in civility and that’s why I think it’s important for me to express that this is not acceptable.”
Beatty added, “It was insulting…It angered me that he would have the nerve to poke me in my back. That was bad enough…With that, I told him I would not be disrespected, that I was a colleague of his and that I was a Black woman…I was not going to be bullied by him. I actually told him he picked the wrong woman today because I was not going to be bullied standing up for something I thought was right.”
In the interview, Beatty also said, “Maybe the question is, had a Black man poked a White woman and then told her to kiss his blank blank, you tell me what you think would have happened.”
In response, Beatty approached House Democratic leadership in addition to the sergeant-at-arms, calling for Rogers to apologize. Only after speaking with House GOP leadership did Rogers approach “Beatty on the House floor to apologize.”
Standing with Beatty, 56 CBC members took to the House steps demanding a public apology. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) said, “We should be applauding [Beatty] for trying to protect everybody’s health.” Echoing these sentiments, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) stated, “We understand what frustration there is around a lot of issues. But in no way should any colleague go beyond the pale by doing what was done today…The behavior and the words today were indescribably, unbelievably horrible.”
Rogers finally issued a statement on Tuesday night, which said, “My words were not acceptable and I expressed my regret to her, first and foremost.”
Meanwhile, this isn’t the first Republican lawmaker to disregard the rules around wearing a face covering in Congress. “Several GOP lawmakers have outright refused…incurring hefty fines as they do so. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Andrew S. Clyde of Georgia have together amassed more than $100,000 in fines for continuing to defy the mask mandate on the House floor,” Washington Post reports.