Screen shot 2017 09 08 at 3.08.21 pm rif3qf

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal responds to Don Young's apology after a heated House floor debate on September 7, 2017. 

Image: C-SPAN

"Racism, sexism and age-ism are all alive and well in the U.S. House," Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal wrote on Facebook Thursday night.

The Seattle House Democrat faced debate that turned personal Thursday afternoon on the House floor—when an Alaska GOP representative called Jayapal "young lady" several times and said she "didn't know a damn thing what she's talking about." Don Young, 84, later apologized when Jayapal, 51, asked Young to withdraw his words. Watch the video below:


Young was proposing an amendment to a government spending package that prohibits funds to support a National Park Service rule, which limits types of wildlife hunting practices on National Preserves in Alaska. Young said it was the state's right to manage its public lands. Jayapal opposed his amendment, arguing that the rule implemented in 2015 helped to preserve important wildlife and natural scenery and eliminate "cruel hunting practices." She also added that the regulations were good for the economy and underwent an extensive public process. (It ultimately passed.)

"The other side may argue that this amendment is a state's rights issue, but that simply isn't true," Jayapal said. "These are federal lands and are therefore subject to federal regulation. These national lands are intended to be enjoyed by all Americans." 

Young's statement turned personal after Jayapal spoke during the floor debate; he said her statement was written by an interest group—"maybe your staff is affiliated with the Humane Society or some other group"—and called her statement "nonsense." 

"I'm deeply disappointed in my good lady from Washington. Doesn't know a damn thing what she's talking about," Young responded. "Now I know your side doesn't believe in the state's rights. You don't, I do. ... You may not know me, young lady, but I'm deeply disturbed."

At that point Jayapal interjects and asked that Young withdraw his remarks. House rules of conduct allow words to be withdrawn if a member impugns the motives of another member, uses offensive language, or says something "deemed unparliamentary." 

"The gentleman has already impugned my motives by saying that I don't know a damn thing about what I'm talking about," Jayapal said. "He's now called me 'young lady,' and Mr. Chairman, I ask that he take down his words." 

The House proceedings paused for five minutes. And after Young returned, he apologized and said he gets "very defensive about my state." Young is known for his temper, according to The Hill, and in the past caused a social media storm for pushing through a crowd of reporters. 

"I can tell you that I care about my state as deeply as you do, and I look forward to getting to know you," Jayapal said. (The full apology is included below.)

"My message to women, including women of color: stand strong," Jayapal wrote on her Facebook. "Refuse to be minimized or patronized. Let all the small guys out there be intimidated by you."

Filed under
Show Comments

Related Content