Update: In a statement, Republican Sen. Susan Collins said she received a handwritten note from Rep. Blake Farenthold apologizing for his comments on how he would duel the female senators who opposed the Republican healthcare bill if they were "a guy from south Texas."
This story was originally published on July 24, 2017.
Welcome to 2017, when elected members of Congress blame their female colleagues for a failed Republican healthcare bill and suggest that if they weren't women, there would be an "Aaron-Burr-style" duel.
That's what Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas said in an interview with conservative radio host Bob Jones on Friday. The two men were discussing GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Since senators came out against both the original and revised version of the repeal-and-replace bill, and against the repeal-only bill, the plan is pretty much on life support.
Farenthold went after his female colleagues in the Senate, without naming names, and blamed them for effectively killing the repeal-only bill last week. The first three Republican senators to oppose the legislation were Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia), so it wasn't difficult to deduce who he was talking about.
Here's how it all went down: During the interview, Jones said "most of us don’t expect Republicans to do anything, especially in the Senate. We do not expect them to function, they are so full of themselves."
Farenthold, who voted for the House version of the Obamacare repeal, replied by saying he found it "absolutely repugnant" that "the Senate does not have the courage to do some of the things that every Republican in the Senate promised to do."
He then went on to say, "Some of the people that are opposed to this — there are some female senators from the northeast. If it was a guy from south Texas, I might ask them to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style."
You know who is a female senator from the northeast? Collins, who has opposed every itineration of the Senate bill because of the deep cuts to Medicaid proposed, and then because she didn't think it was effective to repeal President Obama's signature healthcare reform with no plan to replace it. (She also voted "no" to a repeal-only bill in 2015.)
Collins, Capito, and Murkowski received a barrage of hateful and sexist comments after they opposed the healthcare repeal bill, and it's disheartening to see an elected official engage in similar behavior. Farenthold also only singled out women, and not men like Sen. Rand Paul, who also opposed the Obamacare replacement bill.
On top of this, to suggest that a duel is the way to solve a dispute over revamping one-sixth of the American economy says a lot of how this representative thinks about how the federal government works.
Farenthold may have thought he came across as bold by saying he would settle the matter "Aaron Burr-style," evoking a historical figure presented as a villain due to the Hamilton phenomenon. But the joke is on the representative, because historians believe Burr was actually very progressive.
Looking at Farenthold's recent comments, the same can't be said of the man representing Texas' 27th district.