WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Susan Collins ripped news coverage of her decision to vote for the GOP tax-cut bill as “unbelievably sexist” on Tuesday.
“I cannot believe that the press would have treated another senator with 20 years of experience as they have treated me,” the Maine senator told reporters at the Capitol.
“They’ve ignored everything that I’ve gotten, and there have been stories after stories about how I’ve been duped,” she said. “How are you duped when all of your amendments get accepted? And when the majority leader — and I confirmed it again today with him — will be offering the two insurance bills that I care about as well as the provision waiving the automatic cut in Medicare that could be triggered by this bill?”
The moderate Republican has often won praise from liberals for backing Planned Parenthood and especially for her crucial vote in July to block a repeal of Obamacare. Yet she’s taken heat for deciding to back the GOP tax-cut plan, which contains a provision eliminating Obamacare’s requirement that most Americans get health insurance or pay a penalty.
Collins criticized a reporter, whom she didn’t identify, who covered her meeting with people suffering from serious health conditions.
“The reporter actually wrote that I didn’t cry,” Collins said. The same group met with Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, Collins said, but there was no mention of his lack of tears. “I can’t imagine a reporter writing that about a male senator,” she said.
Collins was referencing a Dec. 14 New York Times story that described a group of protesters at her office who have serious medical conditions. The protesters told the Times they were hoping to sway Collins on an emotional level. Near the end, the story stated “after her meeting at her office, it did not appear that Ms. Collins was ready to change her vote, or that she had been brought to tears.”
The reference to tears was removed from a later version of the story.
Collins said the press hasn’t given her enough credit for her victories in negotiating revisions to the tax-cut plan.
“I think I got more in this tax bill than any other member of the Senate,” Collins said, when asked by a reporter about accusations she had gotten rolled or was naive in the deal she struck.
Collins said her three amendments — retaining some state and local tax deductions, restoring a more generous medical expense deduction for two years and retaining retirement account tax breaks — were all maintained or improved in the conference report.
Collins also pointed to a number of House provisions she helped kill — including taxes on graduate student tuition assistance, private activity bonds, student loans and other issues. “The list goes on and on,” she said.
“It doesn’t mean I like every provision of the final bill but I clearly had an impact,” she said.
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