A Texas congressman late last week criticized opposition to the failed Senate health care bill, taking specific aim at “female senators from the Northeast,” and suggesting that if they were male and from his state, he would challenge them to a duel.

Although he didn’t mention her by name, Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Republican from Corpus Christi, Texas, appeared to single out Maine’s senior U.S. senator, Susan Collins, the only female Republican senator in the Northeast.

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, shown in 2013, says it’s “absolutely repugnant” that the Republican-led Senate hasn’t acted on repealing the health care law and he singled out for blame “some female senators from the Northeast.” Associated Press/Jacquelyn Martin

The two other female Republican senators who have opposed the current health care bill are Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Late Monday, after news outlets across the country picked up the story, Farenthold issued a statement blaming the media. Collins, on the other hand, mostly brushed aside the criticism.

Farenthold made the comments last Friday to a local Texas radio host in frustration about the Senate’s failure to pass a health care bill that would repeal or overhaul the Affordable Care Act. The Republican-controlled House narrowly passed a bill in May that would replace much of the law, commonly known as Obamacare, but the Senate, which is narrowly controlled by Republicans, has yet to do the same.

“The fact that the Senate does not have the courage to do some of the things that every Republican in the Senate promised to do is just absolutely repugnant to me,” Farenthold said, according to the Texas Tribune. “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.”


Burr, who was Thomas Jefferson’s first vice president, shot and killed his longtime political foe, Alexander Hamilton, in a duel in 1804.

Farenthold eventually issued a statement on his comments but did not apologize.

“Like the President, I am sick and tired of the left-wing biased media trying to make something out of nothing,” he said. “This was clearly tongue in cheek. That being said, I’m extremely frustrated with Senate Republicans who are breaking their promise to the American people to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

Collins didn’t punch back at Farenthold but acknowledged that his comments were unusual.

“In twenty years in the Senate, I have had a lot of people make suggestions about how to resolve legislative disputes, but until today nobody had ever suggested a duel,” the senator said in a statement.

Collins, among the most moderate Republican senators, has been consistently opposed to the Senate’s health care plan since the debate began and has been trying to lead a bipartisan approach to fixing the law already in place. The opposition of Collins and the other two senators was noted in particular because the committee of 12 Republican senators chosen to draft a repeal bill were all men.

Farenthold was first elected to the House in 2010 and has been re-elected three times since. He is a member of the Tea Party Caucus and was an early and enthusiastic supporter of President Trump. Collins, on the other hand, was critical of Trump and revealed last August that he would not get her vote.


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