Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is calling media coverage of her support for a tax overhaul “unbelievably sexist.”

Her comments Tuesday were made in response to a question posed by a reporter in a hallway near her office in the Senate, which was poised to vote on the Republican tax plan late Tuesday.

Collins, a Republican, has said she will support it. Maine Senator Angus King, an independent, plans to vote against the bill. The House on Tuesday afternoon approved the sweeping rewrite of the nation’s tax laws, but will have to hold a revote Wednesday after three provisions were stripped that Democrats said violate Senate rules.

In the hallway comments, which were recorded by Collins’ staff and provided to the Press Herald, Collins said she got more provisions passed in the tax bill than any other member of the Senate. She cited one reporter’s coverage that originally noted she didn’t cry after meeting with protesters who had grave medical conditions.

“I can’t imagine a reporter writing that about a male senator meeting with the same group,” she told reporters.

“I believe that the coverage has been unbelievably sexist and I cannot believe that the press would treat another senator with 20 years of experience as they have treated me,” Collins said in her remarks. “They’ve ignored everything I’ve gotten. There have been stories about how I’ve been duped. How are you duped with all of your amendments get accepted?”

Collins fought successfully for tax bill amendments that will allow families to deduct up to $10,000 in state and local taxes, increase the deduction for medical expenses, and protect tax-free contributions for retirement savings. Collins said the tax deduction will provide tax relief for Mainers who itemize their taxes – in a state where per capita income ranks 31st.

Collins said her deduction for medical expenses will benefit Americans struggling with high unreimbursed health care costs, including seniors paying for long term care for a loved one.

Collins said she supports the tax cut package because it’ll grow the economy and includes amendments she proposed. She’s also said she has assurances that Congress will pass bills she backs to shore up the health insurance market.

Collins has made it clear that she wants to see two bills become law that would help stabilize the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace, and for Congress to waive $25 billion in automatic Medicare spending cuts that the bill would trigger.

But the ACA-stabilization bills Collins haven’t been voted on and critics say Senate leadership will have little motivation to honor the assurances Collins extracted once the tax bill is passed.

Democrats have been claiming the Maine senator is being played by House Republicans who oppose such efforts.

Collins has been under intense pressure from her constituents in Maine, who have pleaded with Collins to withdraw support for the tax reform bill. There have been several protests staged at her offices in Maine recently with several people getting arrested.

In her statement Monday to the Senate, Collins remained adamant about her belief that the tax plan will benefit all Americans.

“In evaluating this bill, the question we should ask is not does this tax cut make Washington better off? The right question to ask is does this tax cut make the American people better off? The answer to that question is yes.”

Collins told the Senate that the bill will put money back in the pockets of the American taxpayer with cuts beginning Jan. 1. She said the IRS will update withholding tables this winter.

“Over time, Americans will also see more benefits from this legislation in the form of higher wages. Businesses, small and large, will make the investments that create more jobs.”

After pledging her support for the bill, Collins added, “While it is no means perfect, on balance, this reform bill will provide much needed tax relief. It will benefit lower- and middle-income families, while spurring the creation of good jobs and greater economic growth for our nation.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]