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But that’s not to say his party’s leaders in the House won’t take a keener interest once Smith reports the bill out, a crossroads that could determine whether the bill lives on or withers on the vine.
In the meantime, Smith might need to repair a few relationships after tempers flared during the markup sessions.
Members complained about the amount of time the committee spent consulting experts before moving to mark up the legislation.
“It’s time to pull the nerds in,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said.
“There’s an opportunity to negotiate, even big bills like this, before the markup commences. And your chances of being successful are greater in those negotiations than they are in the open debate,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said.
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) said the intensity of the criticism was in part caused by the short amount of time the committee had to deal with the issue.
“We’ve had controversy over bills before that are dealing with a comprehensive topic, but we’ve always had more time to deal with them, so that the kinds of large differences that you see laid out here have been taken care of in the past,” Lungren said.
Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.) was the boldest Republican critic of the bill. For instance, Issa changed the profile picture of his Facebook page to a black box with “censored” in white letters to protest the bill.
Smith said only, “I’m very pleased with the way the markup is going” in response to his provocative GOP opponents.
Chaffetz said it’s “fair enough” to say Smith is uniquely tenacious in weathering criticism and holding fast to a decision but that his winsome personality makes up for any bruised feelings caused by that trait.
“He does it in a manner that’s not offensive to anybody. He’s the nicest guy in the world. He believes in this, and he wants to push the bill, and he’s the chairman. So I don’t fault him for that,” Chaffetz said.