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Sens. Dean Heller and BIll Cassidy. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Many Republicans assume their party will take another stab at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act if the midterm elections go their way, even though GOP candidates aren't making a big deal about it on the campaign trail.

What they're saying: "Repeal is like fight club," one GOP operative told me. "First rule is not to talk about it."

There's a decent chance Republicans won't be in a position to try again, in part because their last effort was so unpopular. Health care is front and center in Democrats' bid for the House majority, and recent polling shows that Democrats have an edge on the issue.

  • That's also part of the reason Republican candidates aren't campaigning on ACA repeal as aggressively as they have in the past.

But if Republicans hang onto the House and expand their majority in the Senate, lawmakers and aides generally assume another repeal vote would happen.

  • "I suppose that it’s all in the numbers, and if you had a significant enough shift in the Senate and you came up with a replacement that really did generate a level of support, yep," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who opposed last year's repeal bill.
  • That bill failed by just one vote in the Senate, and GOP candidates are emphasizing the ACA as they try to expand their one-seat majority.
  • Republicans challenging Democratic incumbents in places like Wisconsin and Montana have recently reiterated their opposition to the law. Two of those candidates — Patrick Morrisey in West Virginia and Josh Hawley in Missouri — are state attorneys general who have signed on to a new lawsuit arguing the ACA is unconstitutional.

There are two big obstacles: Losing too many House seats to pass a repeal bill there, and finding a replacement plan that could get more votes than the last effort.

  • For now, the block grant proposal that Sens. Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham put forward last year remains the leading policy option.
  • "Don’t make it a cutting Medicaid exercise — make it a 'screw the blue states' exercise and block grant to states with normal Medicaid growth, and you win," a senior GOP aide said.

Go deeper

Ro Khanna wary of Biden approach on Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.

Democrats eye reconciliation for immigration

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform is a pipe dream, but some Senate Democrats are hoping to tie key immigration provisions to the next big reconciliation push.

Why it matters: Immigration is one of the most controversial and partisan issues in U.S. politics, which is why the budget reconciliation process — which allows for bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes — is so attractive.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden meeting Quad amid own pivot toward Asia

Artists paint portraits of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in Mumbai, India. Photo: Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

President Biden plans to meet this month with the leaders of Japan, Australia and India in a virtual summit of the so-called Quad, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: By putting a Quad meeting on the president’s schedule, the White House is signaling the importance of partnerships and alliances to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.