House pushes back vote on patent reform

House pushes back vote on patent reform
© Greg Nash

House Republicans are delaying a vote on patent reform legislation, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told lawmakers Wednesday, amid concerns about the bill.

Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteHouse GOP probe into FBI, DOJ comes to an end Murkowski to reintroduce bill to help abused Native American women FBI hits GOP chairman over push to clear sensitive transcripts by Christmas Eve MORE (R-Va.) said the committee would use the extra time to try and grow support. He noted the bill overwhelmingly passed out of committee and received bipartisan backing.

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"H.R. 9 is the product of much bipartisan work and I am proud that it was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee by an overwhelming vote," Goodlatte said in a statement. "Our recent listening sessions were part of a very open process we have undertaken with this bill and it is clear that some Members still have concerns with the bill."

The bill will be pushed back at least past next week. It is unclear whether the bill will get a vote later this month or if it will be pushed past the August recess. McCarthy has previously slated floor time for the bill in July, with many expecting a vote next week.   

Earlier Wednesday, McCarthy's office said it did not have any scheduling announcements to make. And many members of the committee seemed unaware of the delay throughout the day.

Lawmakers remained tightlipped amid the rumors of a delay. Some observers had expected House leadership to get the bill to the floor as soon as possible to avoid mounting opposition.

As the expected vote neared, opponents grew increasingly vocal.

The bill easily passed the House last Congress with 325 votes, but most do not expect that number to be as big this time around. Opponents say the bill was rushed through the last Congress, and critics have had more time to voice their concerns this year.

The bill is aimed at combating patent litigation abuse by so-called trolls, who do not manufacture anything but rather use their patents to leverage legal settlements with sometimes frivolous lawsuits.

Large technology and retail companies have been pushing the legislation, but there is opposition among pharmaceutical and biotech industries, as well as universities and large patent licensors like Qualcomm.

Lobbyists and advocacy groups scrabbled for information Wednesday morning as a series of tweets indicated the bill could be delayed.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said the GOP whip team had several meetings with members about the bill this week. He said the one Tuesday night "did not go well." Picking up on chatter about a delay, he told a "Conversations with Conservatives" panel Wednesday afternoon the bill's outlook was uncertain.

"This bill is in trouble," he said. "And I think by the end of this week you are going to hear that maybe the bill has been pushed out or something."

One GOP member who voted for patent reform last Congress expressed skepticism Wednesday about the legislation this time around.

"I got concerns frankly right now that you're seeing folks that didn't necessarily weigh in on this issue in previous Congresses when we've dealt with it now come forward and say there are real concerns there," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who  missed the committee vote on the Innovation Act last month.

Reform ultimately stalled last Congress in the Senate, as then Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid knocks Ocasio-Cortez's tax proposal: Fast 'radical change' doesn't work Overnight Defense: Trump rejects Graham call to end shutdown | Coast Guard on track to miss Tuesday paychecks | Dems eye Trump, Russia probes | Trump talks with Erdogan after making threat to Turkey's economy Harry Reid on Iraq War vote: 'It tainted my heart' MORE (D-Nev.) vowed to prevent it from getting to the floor. The upper chamber is working on its own version of patent reform with some key difference to the House version.

— Updated at 6:30 p.m.