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 CornynNew GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Week ahead: Senators near deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets GOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts 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 Moore CapitoOvernight Energy: House moves to block methane rule | EPA delays toxic water standard | Pick for FEMA No. 2 withdraws nomination Air Force One is Trump’s new boardroom Poll: West Virginians approve of Dem senator more than Trump 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 ThuneAviation panel recommends Trump roll back safety rules Overnight Regulation: House moves to block methane rule | Senators wrestle with allowing driverless trucks | EPA delays toxic waste rule Overnight Tech: Senate looks at self-driving trucks | Facebook to keep ads off fake news | House panel calls Equifax CEO to testify MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 3 Republican, said that it will be up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea 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.