House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) on Thursday rebuked his Democratic colleague Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) for her "offensive" characterization of immigration negotiators as "five white guys."
"That comment is offensive. I am committed to ensuring DREAMers are protected and I will welcome everyone to the table who wants to get this done," Hoyer told Politico in a statement.
Pelosi's comments came after a reporter asked the House Minority Leader during a weekly press briefing about an immigration deal that would extend protections to recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and whether she knew who was specifically cutting the deal.
"Just stay tuned. Stay tuned," Pelosi said.
She confirmed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) was one of the negotiators before referring to the "five white guys."
"The ‘Five White Guys' I call them … You going to open a hamburger stand next or what?" Pelosi joked, prompting the reporters to laugh.
The other four "white guys" she referenced are Hoyer, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R., Texas), Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), and White House chief of staff John Kelly.
"That could have been done months ago," Pelosi added, referring to the recent negotiations between the group. "The very idea that this week they're saying, ‘oh let's get four white guys and Gen. Kelly to come and do this–'"
She went on to praise the Democratic caucus for having "great diversity."
"You have to understand, in our caucus we are blessed with great diversity–the understanding of the issues, the ability to translate policy into the lives of people, the sensitivity even on the wording is really important for people who have been engaged in these issues to be there at the table," Pelosi said.
Pelosi's spokesman Drew Hammill defended Pelosi's comment and said she wasn't criticizing Hoyer or Durbin's participation. He said the congresswomen has made similar comments in front of the two Democratic leaders at meetings this week without complaint.
"Leader Pelosi has every confidence in the leadership of Whip Hoyer and Senator Durbin, which they have demonstrated on this topic for years," Hammill said. "It’s not a question of who’s there but who’s not there."
Pelosi press secretary Taylor Griffin also responded on Twitter to a tweet from Wall Street Journal reporter Natalie Andrews about the comment. Griffin said Pelosi's "five white guys" remark was her "favorite."
Favorite line from today’s press conference https://t.co/irFdA1C2Nj
— Taylor Griffin (@Tay_Griffin14) January 11, 2018