Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking Republican woman in the House, stood her ground amid reports President Donald Trump called Attorney General Jeff Session “mentally retarded.”
“Chair McMorris Rodgers’ views on this type of language have not changed and never will. That term should never be used,” spokeswoman Olivia Hnat said in a statement.
McMorris Rodgers’ affirmation comes on the heels of a report from the Washington Post that said a new book by Bob Woodward, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” claimed Trump used the choice phrase.
McMorris Rodgers’ son Cole has Down syndrome.
Hnat referred to a tweet by McMorris Rodgers from June where she criticized former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski mocking an immigrant girl with Down syndrome being detained.
McMorris Rodgers was a founder of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus.
Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois, who is one of the co-chairs of the caucus, said the language is “deeply offensive and beneath the dignity of the office of the President” according to her spokesman Jared Smith.
Arc, an advocacy group “for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” criticized Trump for using the term as an insult.
“Words matter, and President Trump’s choice of words highlight his disregard for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have made it clear for decades that the term retarded is considered a slur against them,” senior executive Marty Ford said in a statement. “This situation mocks people with disabilities and their struggles to realize their rights.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ statement.