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 FranksHow Devin Nunes suddenly fell from power Trump takes risk with Freedom Caucus attack Trump, Freedom Caucus turn on each other MORE (R-Ariz.) said he was surprised when two fellow Republicans — Texas Reps. Ted PoeTed PoeThe art of the compromise Ryan transfers record M to House GOP's campaign arm in March House votes to move toward designating North Korea as state sponsor of terror MORE and Louie GohmertLouie GohmertMembers jam with Wynonna Judd, Keith Urban at Grammys on the Hill Surveillance uproar puts GOP on the spot Freedom Caucus member: Passing healthcare bill would cost GOP majority 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 RyanCongress, the time is now for tax reform to get our economy moving Pelosi: 'Of course' Dems can be against abortion Five fights for Trump’s first year 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 GoodlatteGOP lays out regulatory reform wish list As former Copyright Office leaders, we support an autonomous register of copyrights The Hill's 12:30 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.