GOP panel delays tort reform bill after conservative backlash

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday abruptly postponed a markup on a medical tort reform bill after outbursts of criticism from several of the panel's conservatives.

In a rare display of discord on a GOP-led medical malpractice bill, Texas GOP Reps. Ted PoeTed PoeCameras go dark during House Democrats' sit-in Democrats stage sit-in on House floor to push for gun vote Congress should stop government hacking and protect the Fourth Amendment MORE and Louie GohmertLouie GohmertGOP rep: Democrats trying to 'take away people’s civil rights' House gun control sit-in stretches into second day GOP rep confronts sit-in Dems in fiery exchange MORE opposed a bill from fellow Republicans because they said it would violate states' rights.  

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“I believe this issue should be left up entirely in the state courts, in the states,” Poe said of the medical malpractice bill, which sets a $250,000 cap on compensation for non-economic damages to a patient.

“This committee should not, in my opinion, pass legislation that harms state courts and decisions made in state courts because the people in those states don’t want limits on liability,” Poe said. His position was then echoed by Gohmert, who also argued against federal tort reform.

In another surprise, Democrats on the committee, Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Wis.) and Jarred Nadler (D-.N.Y.), then praised the positions of the two Texas Republicans.

The committee has yet to reschedule the markup. A spokesperson declined to comment on whether Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteBob GoodlatteLobbying world Overnight Tech: Judiciary leaders question internet transition plan | Clinton to talk tech policy | Snowden's robot | Trump's big digital push Overnight Finance: Anxiety grows over Brexit vote | Investors prefer Trump to Clinton in poll | Key chairman open to censuring IRS chief MORE had been aware of conservative opposition to the bill before holding the markup.

The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. John Conyers (D-N.Y.), called it a “strong disrespect of federalism.” And just before the markup, the committee received a letter protesting the bill from 29 groups, including the Center for Justice & Democracy and Consumer Watchdog.

The bill cuts spending by about $40 billion over 10 years. It was drafted as the committee’s response to Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanHouse to vote on NRA-backed gun measure Congress fails on promises to restore regular order and stop funding by crisis The only common ground between Donald Trump and Paul Ryan is an "R" MORE’s (R-Wis.) call to each committee to identify spending cut during this year’s budget process.