(Bloomberg) — A private conversation between two senators that was caught on a live microphone reveals a tense climate among lawmakers and with the White House.
Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, mocked Rep. Blake Farenthold, who’d suggested he might challenge her to a duel if she weren’t a woman because of her opposition to holding a vote to changing the Affordable Care Act.
“He’s huge,” she said of the portly congressman from Texas, a fellow Republican. “He’s so unattractive, it’s unbelievable.”
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Collins was speaking with Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, after a Tuesday Senate Appropriations subcommittee markup, apparently unaware that a microphone was picking up their conversation.
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 this, 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.” Farenthold didn’t name Collins in his comments to the radio host, though it was a clear reference to her.
Burr, the sitting vice president, shot and killed adversary Alexander Hamilton, the former Treasury secretary, during a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey, in 1804.
By 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.