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Rep. Young No Stranger to Controversy
00:46 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Young lashed out at Rep. Pramila Jayapal during a floor debate over a disagreement to an amendment

Young continued to dress down his colleague, saying to her "You may not know me, young lady"

Washington CNN  — 

Rep. Don Young was forced to apologize to a female lawmaker Thursday after addressing her as “young lady” and saying on the House floor that she “doesn’t know a damn thing what she’s talking about.”

Young, an Alaska Republican, lashed out at Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal from Washington during a floor debate over an amendment to the 2018 government spending package regarding wildlife management and national preserves in Alaska.

“You know, I rarely do this, but I’m deeply disappointed in my good lady from Washington. (She) doesn’t know a damn thing what she’s talking about,” Young said.

In addition to his critical outburst, Young accused Jayapal of mimicking talking points from an outside special interest group – questioning the motives behind her opposition to his amendment, which aims to give more power to states to determine land management.

“What you said a while ago was really nonsense. It was written by an interest group, not yourself. Maybe your staff is affiliated with the Humane Society or some other group. And I’m disappointed,” Young said.

Young continued to dress down his colleague, saying to her, “You may not know me, young lady.”

In response, Jayapal, who is 51 years old, asked that Young withdraw his remarks.

“The gentleman has already impugned my motives by saying that I don’t ‘know a damn thing’ about what I’m talking about and he’s now called me ‘young lady,’” she said.

The intense moment caused proceedings to be temporarily halted. Minutes later, Young addressed the floor and Jayapal to apologize.

“To the lady, I do apologize. I get very defensive about my state,” the congressman said, noticeably dropping the word “young” from his remarks. “I recognize it was out of order, so I hope you accept my apology.”

While Jayapal accepted the apology, she said in a statement to CNN Friday that “women, including women of color, face this kind of exchange far too often,” emphasizing that she believes Young’s comments were disrespectful.

“So often, we are discredited for being brown or black, looking too young or too old, or having strong opinions. I came to Congress by the same means as my esteemed colleagues, and it is disrespectful not only to me but to those who elected me to question my intelligence or capacity,” Jayapal told CNN.

Following the House floor showdown Thursday, Jayapal took to Twitter to expand on her thoughts in two tweets, voicing similar thoughts.

“A message to women of color out there: stand strong. Refuse to be patronized or minimized. Let the small guys out there be intimated by you,” Jayapal said in one tweet.

A spokesman for Young’s office said the congressman had nothing to add to his apology, adding that Young was happy to see that his amendment was accepted.

This is not the first time that Young has stirred up controversy. He made eyebrow-raising remarks in 2013 after calling immigrant workers “wetbacks” and caused a stir in 2014 when a House ethics panel disciplined him over misusing campaign funds and accepting improper gifts relating to hunting trips he took with his family and staff over the years.

CNN’s Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.