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Cornyn: Knowing health plan ahead of vote is 'luxury we don't have'

Cornyn: Knowing health plan ahead of vote is 'luxury we don't have'
© Greg Nash

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynLawmakers feel pressure on guns Kasich’s campaign website tones down gun language after Florida shooting Murphy: Trump’s support for background check bill shows gun politics ‘shifting rapidly’ MORE (R-Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, on Thursday said knowing what the Republican healthcare bill will be before a procedural vote is a "luxury we don't have."

A Cornyn spokesman said the senator was referring to the open amendment process for the bill, which means that the final product could be altered.

Senate Republicans are divided on a path forward for their healthcare bill.

The two leading options are either taking up a bill that repeals ObamaCare but delays a replacement, or some updated version of the Senate's repeal-and replace-measure. Both of those bills do not have the votes to pass at the moment, however, though negotiations on the second measure are ongoing.

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Senate Republican leaders say they are planning a vote next week to begin debate on the House's ObamaCare repeal bill, which would allow them to begin debating amendments.

But some senators are reluctant to even vote for the initial procedural motion until they known what they will be voting on.

"I will only vote to proceed to repeal legislation if I am confident there is a replacement plan that addresses my concerns," Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoAt least Alzheimer’s research is bringing Washington together Overnight Tech: Intel chief says 'no doubt' Russia will meddle in midterms | Dems press FCC over net neutrality comments | Bill aims to bridge rural-urban digital divide | FCC to review rules on children's TV Senators offer bill to close rural-urban internet divide MORE (R-W.Va.) tweeted Tuesday. 

Asked about those concerns, Cornyn told reporters, "Yeah, but it's a luxury we don't have."

Leaders are arguing that wavering senators should just vote to begin debate, and then the legislative process will work its way from there. 

"You can't debate something that you don't initiate the debate on," Cornyn said, noting lawmakers could offer amendments on the floor. 

"If anybody's got a better idea., they can offer that and get a vote on it, and in the end 50 people are going to decide whether we're going to have an outcome or not," he added. "Any three people can kill the bill at the end if they're not satisfied."

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 3 Republican, said that it will be up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (R-Ky.) to decide what to vote on. 

"It's a judgment call the leader will make at some point," Thune said. 

 - This story was updated at 3:03 p.m.