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 CornynSenators restart shutdown talks — and quickly hit roadblocks Former GOP rep: We would be 'storming the White House' if Obama mulled national emergency The Hill's Morning Report — Groundhog Day: Negotiations implode as shutdown reaches 20 days 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 CapitoRepublican senators skeptical of using national emergency for wall funding NASA facility in West Virginia renamed after native and 'hidden figure' Katherine Johnson Trump leaves GOP in turmoil with shutdown looming 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 ThuneGOP senators rebuke Trump for using 'Wounded Knee' as 'punchline' GOP senators challenge Trump on shutdown strategy Republican senators skeptical of using national emergency for wall funding MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 3 Republican, said that it will be up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRomney calls on Steve King to resign after comments on white supremacy Don't underestimate the power of nationwide outrage born from financial desperation Top Dem introduces short-term spending bills to reopen government 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.