Republican Kentucky Rep. Hal Rogers apologized to Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Joyce Beatty after a heated exchange in the Capitol over masking Tuesday morning.
Although the Capitol maintains a mask mandate, the rule is sporadically enforced. As Rogers and Beatty prepared to board a train in the Capitol basement, Beatty told Rogers to cover his mouth and nose. Upon Beatty’s instruction, Rogers poked her in the back and told her to get on the train, the congresswoman told the Associated Press.
“I said, ‘Don’t you ever touch me,'” Beatty said.
“Kiss my ass,” Rogers responded.
Rogers later apologized to Beatty, both representatives confirmed.
“This afternoon, I met with Congresswoman Beatty to personally apologize. My words were not acceptable and I expressed my regret to her, first and foremost,” Rogers said in a statement.
Rogers now issues a statement: “This afternoon, I met with Congresswoman Beatty to personally apologize. My words were not acceptable and I expressed my regret to her, first and foremost.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 8, 2022
Beatty accepted the apology, saying that she is “moving on to the urgent priorities of my constituents and the Congressional Black Caucus.”
CBC Chairwoman Beatty accepts Hal Rogers’ apology. “This was a high profile insult 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.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 9, 2022
During a Wednesday appearance on CNN, Beatty claimed a racial component to the incident.
“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,” she told host John Berman.
“He did not come forth at first. And our leadership, leader Steny Hoyer, went over and talked with some of his colleagues and their leadership and him. And they said he would come over and apologize. And so, when he came to the floor to apologize — mind you, without a mask on — I stepped back.” Beatty said. “And as he reached out to touch my arm, I told him, ‘Don’t touch me.’ And I moved back because he didn’t have a mask on. And so with that, he mumbled some words, and I told leadership, it wasn’t acceptable. I wanted a public apology. And as speaker Pelosi said, if you insult a high-profile, you have to do a high-profile apology. So I demanded a public apology. And that is when he publicly apologized.”
Tuesday’s incident was not the first dust-up between Republicans and Democrats over the Capitol’s masking rules. Democratic Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal accused Republicans of creating a “super-spreader event” during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot after GOP members did not wear masks while sheltering in place. Jayapal and Democratic New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman both tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after the riot. (RELATED: Jim Clyburn, Third-Ranking House Democrat, Tests Positive For COVID)
Several recent studies have shown that the most commonly worn cloth masks provide little to no protection against COVID-19, particularly among younger wearers. Top scientists, including University of Minnesota epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm, a member of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board, has acknowledged their lack of effectiveness, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not changed its guidance on masking.