New York Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez admonished Louisiana Republican Representative Clay Higgins after he referred to environmental lawyer and clean energy advocate Raya Salter as “young lady” and “boo" at various points during a House Oversight Hearing.
The hearing—titled “Fueling the Climate Crisis: Examining Big Oil’s Prices, Profits, and Pledges"—included valuable testimony from Salter. As a member of the New York State Climate Action Council and the executive director of Energy Justice Law and Policy Center, Salter elevated the concerns of working-class communities, Indigenous communities and other marginalized communities most likely to suffer the adverse effects of pollution and climate change.
After claiming Salter delivered "the most outlandish testimony I’ve witnessed yet in six years in this oversight committee," Higgins needled her over her call to shut down petrochemical plants and to make changes to the aviation industry, telling her she had "no answer, do you, young lady, about what to do with petrochemical products?”
At another point—after the two talked over each other—Higgins told Salter, “I’m trying to give you the floor, boo" before continuing to attack her.
Higgins later posted footage of the exchange to his official Twitter account—referring to Salter as "an unhinged environmental activist"—which you can see below.
Higgins' behavior—called condescending, racist, abusive and misogynist in the comments on his tweet—prompted Ocasio-Cortez to issue a harsh rebuke during the same hearing.
You can hear what she said in the video below.
"In the four years that I’ve sat on this committee, I have never seen members of Congress, Republican, or Democrat, disrespect a witness the way that I have seen them disrespect you [Salter] today."
"I do not care what party they are in. Never seen anything like that.”
"And for the gentleman of Louisiana, and the comfort that he felt yelling at you like that? There's more than one way to get a point across."
"And frankly, men who treat women like that in public, I fear how they treat them in private. We can be better than this. We don’t have to resort to yelling.”
Ocasio-Cortez then took it upon herself to apologize to Salter on behalf of the rest of the House Oversight Committee.
To that, an undeterred Salter replied:
"Thank you, ma’am. I want to thank you, and you’ve provided so much leadership and courage. They can come for me all day long.”
Many have praised Ocasio-Cortez for speaking out while criticizing Higgins and Republicans at large.
Ocasio-Cortez has previously spoken about the sexism she faces as a member of Congress.
She made national headlines in July 2020 after she took to the House floor to enter into the Congressional record a sexist vulgarity said to her by Florida Republican Representative Ted Yoho, who later denied saying the slur after she observed incidents like the one she described "happen every day," even "on the steps of our nation's Capitol."
Last year, she criticized West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin after he failed to use her official title and referred to her as a "young lady" in an interview, openly questioning why "this kind of weird, patronizing behavior is so accepted."
Earlier this summer, she admitted she was tempted to "deck" known right-wing troll Alex Stein after he publicly sexually harassed her—referring to her at one point as "my favorite big booty Latina"—on the steps of the United States Capitol.