The Republican leader made the comments after he was handed an oversized gavel by members of the Tennessee congressional delegation while appearing at a fundraising event in the state. His remarks are just the latest sign of his deteriorating relationship with the Democratic leader, who was not present at the event.
Pelosi’s spokesperson and deputy chief of staff swiftly condemned the comments.
A spokesperson for McCarthy did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
The comments also drew backlash from a number of congressional Democrats.
California Rep. Eric Swalwell went a step further, calling for McCarthy’s resignation.
“What you’re doing is unprecedented,” McCarthy told Pelosi, according to a second source familiar with the call.
McCarthy questioned the science behind the speaker’s decision on masks when asked about her comment. “Well if she’s so bright, I’d like to know where the science changes in the Capitol, between the House and the Senate,” he said, referring to different rules regarding masks between the two chambers.
CNN’s Melanie Zanona and Manu Raju contributed to this report.