A lawmaker who voted to remove the term “Oriental” from federal law, only to use the term himself while explaining why he wasn’t planning to attend public meetings with constituents, regretted using the racially insensitive term.

Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., originally said he wasn’t participating in town halls because they “are out of control,” and he compared them to a “cleansing that the Orientals used to do,” during a meeting last week with The Southern Illinoisan‘s editorial board.

The town halls “going on around the United States right now are out of control, which means you don’t actually get to talk to people and listen,” Bost said, according to an editorial urging the congressman to attend a meeting with his constituents.

“The amount of time that I have at home is minimal,” Bost said. “I need to make sure that it’s productive. You know the cleansing that the Orientals used to do where you’d put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them? he continued. “That’s not what we need.”

Bost later backtracked on Thursday night, saying his comment was a “poor choice of words.”

“While there was no malicious intent, I regret that my words may have distracted from an important point,” Bost told CNN in a statement. “When the booing and shouting drowns out the conversation we’re trying to have with our constituents, it becomes that much harder to govern. It’s time for Republicans and Democrats to get back to the point where we can disagree on the issues but give everyone a chance to have their voice heard.”

Last year, the House and Senate unanimously passed legislation, which then-president Barack Obama signed into law, that removed the term Oriental from federal law. Bost was among those who voted for the bill.

“The term ‘Oriental’ has no place in federal law and at long last this insulting and outdated term will be gone for good,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep.Grace Meng, D-N.Y., said in a statement after it passed. “Many Americans may not be aware that the word ‘Oriental’ is derogatory. But it is an insulting term that needed to be removed from the books, and I am extremely pleased that my legislation to do that is now the law of the land.”

Referring to Asian people as Orientals was once common but Merriam-Webster says it “now sometimes considered offensive especially when used to describe a person.”

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It is not clear what “cleansing” Bost was referencing in his comment. An editor with Fusion speculated it might be the “struggle sessions” from China’s Cultural Revolution in which people were publicly humiliated, yelled at and abused.

Bost is not the first Republican lawmaker to avoid town halls recently. Angry constituents have confronted their representatives at a number of such events in the past weeks, many of them concerned about the plans to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

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