House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) on Thursday condemned comments made by Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) after he called Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) “loud” and her husband a “thug.”
Jeffries said Nehls’s comments “clearly peddled in racially inflammatory language.”
“It’s disgraceful, and as far as I know, the person he called a ‘thug’ has actually served in the United States military, putting his life on the line as so many of our service women and men do,” Jeffries said at a press conference.
“We’ve just seen the sacrifice that is made by the men and women of the U.S. military,” he added, alluding to the strike that killed three U.S. troops and wounded dozens of others Sunday in Jordan. “It’s a solemn responsibility that they undertake, and to casually just throw out language calling people thugs is shameful.”
Nehls made the comments about Bush and her husband after the Department of Justice announced it was investigating the progressive over campaign spending for security services.
“She doesn’t even support the police,” Nehls said Tuesday. “But the idea to pay her thug money to try to help protect her this and that, for what? Maybe if she wouldn’t be so loud all the time, maybe she wouldn’t be getting threats.”
Bush, who has received threats in the past, has paid around $60,000 to Cortney Merritts, according to court filings from the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT). Bush and Merritts were in a relationship prior to her 2021 election, and they married in February last year.
The congresswoman responded to Nehls’s comments Tuesday, demanding an apology and saying his words are “the kind of rhetoric that endangers Black lives.”
The stereotype of the loud and angry Black woman dates to chattel slavery and is often used to demean Black women as hostile, aggressive and difficult to work with.
The Congressional Black Caucus also threw its support behind the congresswoman Thursday, calling Nehls’s comments “unbecoming.”
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, the caucus said Nehls’s “attempt to tone police and disrespect a Black woman and colleague in the House by using dogwhistles like ‘thug’ and ‘loud’ is inappropriate and unbecoming of a Member of Congress.”
Michael Lillis contributed to this article.