U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, caught on a microphone that was meant to be turned off, told a colleague she was “worried” about President Trump’s lack of understanding of the budget process and described a Texas congressman who criticized her health care vote last week as “so unattractive it’s unbelievable.”

Collins, who serves as the Senate chair of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was overheard on a microphone that somebody forgot to switch off after a subcommittee hearing Tuesday morning.

The mic picks up her conversation with U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., who tells her he’s concerned that President Trump is “crazy,” with Collins responding, “I’m worried.” The audio clearly reveals that Collins and Reed are both concerned about a federal budget impasse and the impact it would have, including on the Department of Defense.

“If we don’t get a budget deal we are going to be paralyzed at DOD, we are going to be paralyzed everywhere, Sen. Collins,” Reed said.

Collins responds, saying, “I know, I know. I’m worried.” She adds, “I don’t even think he knows that there is a (Budget Control Act) or anything. I really don’t.” The act, which guides the budget process, became law in 2011.

“And he hasn’t – not one word about the debt ceiling,” Reed says of Trump, and Collins replies, “Good point.”

Earlier in the conversation Reed says of the president, “I think he’s crazy and I don’t say that lightly or as a goofy guy.”

During their exchange, Reed mentions the House of Representatives, and Collins switches subjects. Speaking in reference to Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas, she asks Reed, “Did you see the one who challenged me to a duel?”

“Trust me,” he replies, “do you know why he challenged you to a duel? Because you could beat the (expletive) out of him,” prompting laughter from Collins.

Collins says of the Texas Republican, “Well, he’s huge. And he – I don’t mean to be unkind, but he’s so unattractive it’s unbelievable.”

Collins later said Farenthold had offered her a written apology for his statement last week, and she too apologized.

“Neither weapons nor inappropriate words are the right way to resolve legislative disputes,” Collins said in a statement issued to the media. “I received a handwritten apology from Rep. Farenthold late this morning. I accept his apology, and I offer him mine.”

Farenthold, of Corpus Christi, Texas, appeared to single out Collins when he said on a talk radio show that there were several female Republican senators who opposed repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement, and that if they were men and from his state he would challenge them to a duel.

“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.”

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. Initially, Collins shrugged off Farenthold’s comments , saying that in her 20 years in the Senate, it was the first time anybody had proposed having a duel to settle a political issue.

Annie Clark, a spokeswoman for Collins in Washington, said Collins is worried about cuts to a host of federal programs that help Maine and communities across the country.

“Sen. Collins is worried about the elimination of transportation and housing programs in the President’s budget request that are critically important to local communities across our country, such as: TIGER, CDBG, Essential Air Service, HOME as well as major reductions to FAA, Amtrak, and rental assistance, which serves predominantly older and disabled individuals,” Clark wrote in an email message to the Press Herald.

Collins was among Trump’s Republican critics, saying she wouldn’t vote for him, during his presidential campaign in 2016 in part because of the disparaging remarks he had made about U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and then Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. Collins also cited Trump’s mocking of a disabled news reporter.

“With the passage of time, I have become increasingly dismayed by his constant stream of cruel comments and his inability to admit error or apologize,” Collins wrote in a guest column for the Washington Post last August. “My conclusion about Mr. Trump’s unsuitability for office is based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics. Instead, he opts to mock the vulnerable and inflame prejudices by attacking ethnic and religious minorities. Three incidents in particular have led me to the inescapable conclusion that Mr. Trump lacks the temperament, self-discipline and judgment required to be president,” she wrote.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.