Republicans in Congress have voted more than 50 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Glitches with last year's rollout ginned up the conservative base and helped revive some momentum, but if Republicans win the Senate on Tuesday, top leaders want voters to know that a full Obamacare repeal is not going to happen anytime soon.
"It is at the top of the list, but remember who is still in office for two more years," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said during an appearance on Fox News Wednesday. "Obviously, he is not going to sign a full repeal."
Instead, McConnell says, he would be more inclined to hold a vote on more-incremental changes to the Affordable Care Act, such as repealing the medical-device tax or gutting the individual mandate, which is much more unlikely.
"I'd like to put Senate Democrats in the position of voting on the most unpopular parts of this law, and see if we can put it on the president's desk and make him take real ownership," McConnell said.
McConnell still says Obamacare is the "single worst piece of legislation in the last 50 years," but his tone is shifting as he attempts to adjust expectations of voters whom he and his Republican colleagues have made promises to over the years. Seeing a shot to finally gain full control of Congress, establishment Republicans are now in the uncomfortable position of pulling back the reins. Even if firebrand conservatives like Ted Cruz continue to promise that it's possible to repeal "every word of Obamacare," that doesn't mean it's true. At least, McConnell and others are saying, not yet.