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Rep. Joyce Beatty of Ohio shared a series of tweets early Tuesday claiming that a fellow member of Congress, Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, physically and verbally accosted her when she asked him to wear a mask on a U.S. Capitol subway train.
The Republican apologized to Beatty by day’s end.
Beatty, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, wrote on Twitter: “Today, while heading to the House floor for votes, I respectfully asked my colleague @RepHalRogers to put on a mask while boarding the train. He then poked my back, demanding I get on the train. When I asked him not to touch me, he responded, ‘kiss my a**.’”
“This is the kind of disrespect we have been fighting for years, and indicative of the larger issue we have with GOP Members [flouting] health and safety mandates designed to keep us and our staff safe,” Beatty continued. “@RepHalRogers, when you are ready to grow up and apologize for your behavior, you know where to find me.”
Masks are not mandated on the train; however, the behavior demonstrates ongoing Republican disdain for mandates that, according to the CDC, help to slow the spread of COVID-19, which has killed more than 900,000 Americans.
Beatty’s tweets — which, as of press time, have been “liked” more than 40,000 times — elicited strong responses. Many supporters urged her to take criminal action against Rogers, calling his behavior assault. New York Democrat Rep. Hakeem Jeffries expressed a similar sentiment when speaking up for Beatty Tuesday, saying, “He needs to apologize, man up, apologize immediately, before this escalates to a place he doesn’t want this to go.”
“Who does Hal Rogers think he is? How dare he put his hands on anyone, man, woman or child? asked the House Democratic Caucus chairman. “How dare he assault Joyce Beatty? How dare he jab her aggressively in the back? How dare he verbally attack her? How dare he say ‘kiss my a**’? Who do you think you are?”
Rogers reportedly apologized to Beatty from the House floor after Democrats gathered on the House steps to condemn his actions. He told CNN, “My words were not acceptable,” adding that he “expressed my regret to her, first and foremost.”
According to the network, Beatty later issued a statement accepting Rogers’ apology.
“This was a high profile insult,” she said, “and it required a high profile response. I accept Rep. Rogers’ public apology, and I am now moving on to the urgent priorities of my constituents and the Congressional Black Caucus.”
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