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 CornynWhite House trying to beat back bipartisan Cornyn infrastructure amendment Senate GOP shifts focus to fight over Biden's .5 trillion budget McConnell warns Schumer cutting off debate quickly could stall infrastructure deal 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 CapitoWhite House trying to beat back bipartisan Cornyn infrastructure amendment Seven-figure ad campaign urges GOP to support infrastructure bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions 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 ThuneSenate eyeing possible weekend finish for T infrastructure bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cuomo defiant as Biden, Democrats urge resignation Senate GOP shifts focus to fight over Biden's .5 trillion budget MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 3 Republican, said that it will be up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Trump asks court to block release of tax returns to Congress | Private sector adds 330K jobs in July, well short of expectations Senate panel advances first three spending bills McConnell lays out GOP demands for government-funding deal 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.