Washington (CNN)Tempers flared on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday night when the No. 2 House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer, called House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy a "coward."
Hoyer calls McCarthy a 'coward,' apologizes
McCarthy had just updated members on plans for a vote on a three-week funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security, which will run out of money at midnight on Friday. Hoyer, who has been pressing for a clean full funding measure through the rest of the fiscal year, responded by saying, "You coward."
The aside could be heard on the microphone at his podium.
Murmurs could be heard on the House floor, and Hoyer crossed the floor to speak with McCarthy after the exchange.
"He's not a coward. I just apologized to him," Hoyer told CNN as he walked off the House floor. He explained that he was angry that he felt his mic was cut off when he was asking questions about the DHS bill.
"I said something I shouldn't have said," he said.
Hoyer said McCarthy accepted his apology and told him "it was unfortunate."
The two leaders do have a good relationship so many were surprised by the comment.
The House Democratic Whip told CNN he opposed the three-week funding bill, saying it was critical for the agency to get a full year budget.
Hoyer told CNN he and other Democratic leaders would see on Friday whether the GOP had the votes on their own to pass the measure, and suggested they would hold back support.
Some House conservatives object to the three-week bill because they don't want any continued funding for the agency that is tasked with carrying out President Barack Obama executive actions on immigration. The vote is expected to be close, especially if Democrats stand united against it.