Conservative backlash against tort reform bill surprised GOP sponsor

Conservative backlash against tort reform bill surprised GOP sponsor
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The Republican author of a popular medical malpractice bill that was derailed in committee on Tuesday said conservative opposition caught him unaware.

Rep. Trent FranksTrent FranksSenate spending plan boosts House moderates House briefed on anti-ISIS campaign progress Republicans rally around Sessions after Trump criticism MORE (R-Ariz.) said he was surprised when two fellow Republicans — Texas Reps. Ted PoeTed PoeKudos for backing US-Cuba reset House bill threatens Russia with nuclear treaty suspension For the sake of police, don’t back the Back the Blue Act MORE and Louie GohmertLouie GohmertSteve King compares military pay for gender transition to Ottoman's castrating slaves House passes 6.5B defense policy bill Budget process drags as GOP struggles for consensus MORE — voiced opposition during the House Judiciary Committee markup, forcing the panel to temporarily abandon the bill.   

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“To be quite honest with you, no. I hate to admit that, but I didn’t know,” Franks told The Hill on Wednesday.

The tort reform bill is a high priority for the Judiciary Committee and for GOP leadership. The bill is part of a budget savings package that each House committee was asked to create by Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanGOP divided over care for transgender troops Want bipartisan health reform? Make the debate honest again Ex-CBO directors defend against GOP attacks on ObamaCare analysis MORE (R-Wis.). It is estimated to save about $40 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The budget savings bills are an effort to offset the spending increases in last fall’s budget deal between Congress and the White House and help the House GOP unite around a budget blueprint for 2017.

The Judiciary Committee has not yet scheduled another markup. Franks suggested he would be adding language to “clarify” the issue of states rights that Poe and Gohmert had cited in their opposition.

“I think that there was consensus there that we could do something to make sure there was a clear federal nexus,” Franks said.

A spokesman for Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteBob GoodlatteBooker wants more scrutiny of Amazon-Whole Foods merger Dem wants hearing on Amazon's bid for Whole Foods Surveillance reform déjà vu MORE (R-Tenn.) declined to say whether he was aware of the concerns within his party before the markup.

During the markup, Goodlatte repeatedly said the bill’s language was the same as a bill that had already passed the committee.

“The bill before us today is identical to what was reported out of this committee two Congresses ago,” Goodlatte said.

Franks, too, underscored that both Poe and Gohmert had supported similar language before.

“They have obviously had some ambivalence in their own lives, because they voted for it before,” Franks said Wednesday.