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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 CornynIntelligence leaders push for mandatory breach notification law Senate GOP signal they won't filibuster debate of hate crimes bill Application portal for venue grants down for five days with no updates 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 CapitoOn The Money: Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats | Justice Dept. sues Trump ally Roger Stone for unpaid taxes OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump official delayed releasing information on cancer-linked chemical in Illinois: watchdog | Advocacy groups say tech giants need to 'step it up' on sustainability |  GOP senator: Raising corporate taxes is a 'non-starter' Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats 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 GOP to face off over earmarks next week Biden outreach on infrastructure met with Republican skepticism McConnell seeks to end feud with Trump MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 3 Republican, said that it will be up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Pelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Progressives put Democrats on defense 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.