WASHINGTON – A senior Republican lawmaker apologized late Tuesday for using an expletive when Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty asked him to put his mask on while in the Capitol.
The confrontation was just the latest dust-up in the House over mask-wearing, which many Republicans have refused to do.
Earlier Tuesday, Beatty, D-Ohio, ran into Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., outside her congressional office. Rogers, who has served in Congress since 1981, was maskless when they entered an elevator.
Beatty asked him to put on his mask and Rogers begrudgingly agreed, she said in an interview with The Associated Press shortly after it happened.
Rogers proceeded to take his mask off when they got off the elevator and the two crossed paths again upon entering a train in the Capitol complex. That is when the interaction became hostile.
Beatty once again asked Rogers to put his mask back on.
“He poked me in the middle of my back and said, ‘Get on the train,'” she said. “And I said, ‘Don’t you ever touch me.'"
According to Beatty, Rogers replied, “Kiss my a—.”
In a video obtained by The AP, Beatty can be heard asking Rogers for an apology on the train.
“I hate to think if it had been reversed and a man of color ... they would have ushered him off the floor,” Beatty said.
Beatty is Black and Rogers is white.
In a statement shortly after the incident, Rogers said he met with Beatty and apologized.
“My words were not acceptable and I expressed my regret to her, first and foremost,” the congressman said.
The apology came less than two hours after all 56 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, which Beatty chairs, stood on the steps of the House and demanded Rogers' apology.
"For a member of the U.S. House of Representatives tells another member to kiss his a—, I’m telling you today that is not the America that we will accept," Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., told reporters on the steps.
Beatty said late Tuesday that she had accepted Rogers' apology, adding: “As I have throughout the pandemic, I will continue to stand up for health and safety measures. And as I did today, I will never tolerate bullying, no matter who does it.”
Several Republican lawmakers have racked up thousands of dollars in fines for going maskless on the House floor.