Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) blamed his female colleagues in the Senate for the challenges Republicans have encountered in passing legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, remarking that he wanted to challenge them to a duel.
In an interview with “1440 Keys,” a conservative Corpus Christi radio station, Farenthold declared that “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.” The source of Farenthold’s absolute repugnance? “Some female senators from the Northeast.” Complaining about the offenses of his female colleagues, Farenthold added that “if it was a guy from south Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style,” referencing the duel in which Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton.
As it turns out, Farenthold has a history of concerning remarks and behaviors regarding women. He was sued for sexual harassment in 2014 by a former staffer, a case which was settled out of court. Following last October’s leaked Access Hollywood tape in which Donald Trump bragged about assaulting and harassing women, Farenthold confirmed that even if Trump hypothetically said “I really like to rape women,” he would still endorse Trump’s candidacy.
The Senate’s ACA repeal was crafted in secret by a group of 13 white, male legislators from the chamber. Their efforts resulted in legislation that disproportionately impacts women. The so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act, when last released to the public or the chamber, included massive cuts to Medicaid, restrictions on abortion coverage and a ban on Planned Parenthood funding.
Farenthold’s comments come on the heels of a sexist backlash against GOP women who have questioned the merit of the Senate’s ACA repeal efforts. Last week, Gov. Mike Huckabee tweeted that Republicans should “vacuum them out of office” should the female Senators vote against the legislation. On social media, supporters of the Senate effort to undo the gains of the Affordable Care Act have called them “witches,” “feminazis,” and “bitches” and cited them as examples of why women shouldn’t serve in public office.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says that a threshold vote on beginning to debate legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act will take place today, amidst considerable challenges from constituents and GOP lawmakers alike. However, Farenthold may be surprised to find out that “some female senators from the Northeast” aren’t the bill’s only opposition: Four senators—three of them male!—currently oppose the latest version of Trumpcare, and ten others have expressed reservations. Among them are three Republican women: Susan Collins, Shelley Moore Capito and Lisa Murkowski. Only one of them, Susan Collins of Maine, has stated that she will be voting against the bill. She is also the only one from the Northeast.