Conservative backlash against tort reform bill surprised GOP sponsor

Conservative backlash against tort reform bill surprised GOP sponsor
© Getty Images

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 FranksFreedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights Eric Schneiderman and #MeToo pose challenges for both parties The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ariz.) said he was surprised when two fellow Republicans — Texas Reps. Ted PoeLloyd (Ted) Theodore PoeFive races to watch in the Texas runoffs Five Republican run-offs to watch in Texas Hillicon Valley: House Dems release Russia-linked Facebook ads | Bill would block feds from mandating encryption 'back doors' | AT&T hired Cohen for advice on Time Warner merger | FCC hands down record robocall fine | White House launches AI panel MORE and Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertTrump tweet may doom House GOP effort on immigration Live coverage: High drama as hardline immigration bill fails, compromise vote delayed Republicans tear into IG finding on Clinton probe 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 RyanLaura Ingraham: George Will is ‘sad and petty’ for urging votes against GOP Seth Rogen: I told Paul Ryan I hate his policies in front of his kids George Will: Vote against GOP in midterms 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 GoodlatteHouse Judiciary Committee subpoenas FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts Trump tweet may doom House GOP effort on immigration House still plans immigration vote next week despite Trump's tweet 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.