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 FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksConservatives fear end-of-year ‘Christmas tree’ spending bill Adoption tax credit restored after conservative backlash The Hill's Whip List: Where Republicans stand on tax-reform bill MORE (R-Ariz.) said he was surprised when two fellow Republicans — Texas Reps. Ted PoeLloyd (Ted) Theodore PoeMounting GOP retirements threaten House majority House Judiciary chairman announces retirement GOP anxiety rises over ’18 midterms MORE and Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertColbert spoofs Louie Gohmert's Uranium One chart Social media reacts to Gohmert chart on Obama-era Uranium One deal GOP lawmaker calls for Mueller to be fired in speech on House floor MORE — voiced opposition during the House Judiciary Committee markup, forcing the panel to temporarily abandon the bill.   

“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 Davis RyanDem: Ex-lawmaker tried to pin me to elevator door and kiss me Two months later: Puerto Rico doesn’t have power, education or economy running again On Capitol Hill, few name names on sexual harassment 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 GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlattePoll: Plurality of voters want special counsels for both campaigns Gun reformers search for the next bump stock AT&T wants to probe Trump's role in Time Warner merger: report 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.