catches senators’ chat on D.C. strife.
WASHINGTON — At the end of a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing Tuesday morning, Chairman Susan Collins, R-Maine, was heard mocking a representative who had suggested he would challenge her to a duel if she weren’t a woman because of her opposition to holding a vote to get rid of the 2010 health care law.
“He’s huge,” Collins said of Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, “He’s so unattractive, it’s unbelievable.”
Collins had forgotten to turn off her microphone and was speaking with Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., apparently unaware that their conversation was picked up.
Reed told Collins: “Do you know why he challenged you to a duel? Because you could beat the s**t out of him first.”
On Friday, according to The Texas Tribune, Farenthold told a radio host: “Some of the people that are opposed to [holding the vote to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act], there are female senators from the Northeast. … If it was a guy from South Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.”
Burr, then the sitting vice president, shot and killed adversary Alexander Hamilton, the former Treasury secretary, during a duel in Weehawken, N.J., in 1804.
On Tuesday afternoon, Collins said in a statement that she received a handwritten apology from Farenthold. And she called the Texas lawmaker to say she’s sorry.
“Neither weapons nor inappropriate words are the right way to resolve legislative disputes,” she said.
On another topic, Reed and Collins discussed their unease with how President Donald Trump’s administration is dealing with the budget and the debt ceiling and expressed concern about the impact.
“I swear, [the Office of Management and Budget] just went through and whenever there was ‘grant,’ they just X it out,” Collins said. “With no measurement, no thinking about it, no metrics, no nothing. It’s just incredibly irresponsible.”
“Yes,” Reed replied. “I think — I think he’s crazy,” apparently referring to the president. “I mean, I don’t say that lightly and as a kind of a goofy guy.”
“I’m worried,” Collins replied.
Collins added, “I don’t even think he knows there is a BCA” — referring to Trump and the Budget Control Act, a 2011 law that defines the budget process.
“He was down at the Ford commissioning,” Reed said, referring to Trump’s weekend event launching a new aircraft carrier, “saying, ‘I want them to pass my budget.’ OK, so we give him $54 billion and then we take it away across the board, which would cause chaos.” “Right,” Collins replied. “It’s just — and he hasn’t — not one word about the budget. Not one word about the debt ceiling,” Reed said.
Both expressed concern about the mixed messages coming from the administration about legislation to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a default by the federal government. The government will reach its statutory limit on borrowing sometime in October, the Congressional Budget Office estimates.
“Neither weapons nor inappropriate words are the right way to resolve legislative disputes,” Sen. Susan Collins said Tuesday after she and Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas exchanged apologies.