An Idaho House Republican publicly apologized Wednesday after he said a day earlier that early childhood education grants would encourage mothers to ”come out of the home.”
In an emotional apology, Rep. Charlie Shepherd, R-Riggins, said that he intended to “compliment mothers” but admits he “failed miserably.”
“I have learned the hard way that misguided statements do not help solve anything,” Shepherd said Wednesday. “I sincerely apologize to any and all that I have offended, and I will work hard to right any wrongs that I have done.”
House members debated a bill Tuesday that would have provided $6 million in federal grants for early childhood education in Idaho. The bill, House Bill 226, split House Republican leadership and failed by one vote.
Shepherd said he opposed the bill.
“I don’t think anybody does a better job than mothers in the home,” Shepherd said Tuesday. “And any bill that makes it easier or more convenient for mothers to come out of the home and let somebody else raise their child, I just don’t think that’s a good direction for us to be going.”
Shepherd on Wednesday said he didn’t mean to fault mothers and doesn’t believe the father has less responsibility in raising children.
“After hearing my remarks played back, I recognize how my remarks sounded derogatory, offensive and even sexist towards the mothers of this state,” Shepherd said. “I witness the extraordinary abilities of professional mothers every day, just like the mothers in this body. I have the utmost respect and admiration for every one of them and the mothers in this state.”
House Assistant Minority Leader Lauren Necochea, D-Boise, who has two children, tweeted that she was “dumbfounded” over Shepherd’s remarks Tuesday night. Necochea told the Statesman on Wednesday she appreciated Shepherd’s apology but hopes that can translate into supporting policies that help parents. Shepherd couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
A new version of the bill for early childhood grants will likely come back for the House to consider, Necochea said.
“It takes courage and humility to admit mistakes and we need more of that in our political discourse,” Necochea said. “I hope Rep. Shepherd will also take the next step and advance policies that support parents in caring for their children, whether they decide to work or stay at home.”