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Rebecca Zisser / Axios

How seriously should you take House Republicans' talk yesterday that they're not giving up on Obamacare repeal, and they're going to keep working until they have enough votes to pass it? You should believe them when they say they'd like to do it. But it's OK not to change your lunch plans for the next few weeks.

Here's why:

  • Conservatives have been giving Republicans an earful since this weekend: How can you just drop the issue that you've run on in four elections, without even a vote? (My interview this weekend with Americans for Prosperity's Tim Phillips captures that view.)
  • When House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Friday that "Obamacare's the law of the land," he echoed the words former House Speaker John Boehner used in 2012 after President Barack Obama was re-elected. Both times, conservatives were infuriated.
  • So House Republicans had a meeting yesterday, filled with lots of happy talk about how they don't want to give up on repeal. Even President Trump used some happy talk on senators at the White House last night: "I know that we are all going to make a deal on health care. That's such an easy one."
  • But Republicans are still stuck with the same problem: Moderates don't like the bill because of the coverage losses, and conservatives don't like it because it wouldn't actually get rid of all of Obamacare.
  • GOP leaders' basic message to the Republicans was that they still have the budget "reconciliation" bill ready, and they can always bring it back. But that doesn't mean it happens tomorrow. It's more likely after Republicans have all taken a break from each other. That's why Ryan said there's no "timeline."
  • One GOP aide's read: "You gotta have a plan to go to the floor. That doesn't exist right now. I think it's revisit it later — the reconciliation vehicle is still viable, would be terrible to let that thing go to waste."
  • Even if the House somehow brings the bill back from the dead, and gets the bare minimum votes to pass it, Senate Republicans are in a different place now. Caitlin Owens reports that Senate HELP Committee chairman Lamar Alexander is ready to talk about bipartisan solutions to stabilize the market while Congress works on a long-term overhaul.
  • Meantime, Freedom Caucus member Mo Brooks will push for a "discharge petition" to force a vote on his clean repeal bill, spokeswoman Annalyse Keller tells me — but he has to wait 30 legislative days to do that. (It was introduced last week.)

Bottom line: This is the beginning of the Zombie Trumpcare movie. The townsfolk know something is afoot, but nobody is getting their brains eaten yet.

Go deeper

8 mins ago - World

NYT: Biden won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.

Trump threatens to veto Defense spending bill over social media shield

Photo: Erin Schaff - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Tuesday a threat to veto a must-pass end-of-year $740 billion bill defense-spending authorization bill unless Congress repeals a federal law that protects social media sites from legal liability.

Why it matters: Trump's attempt to get Congress to end the tech industry protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the latest escalation in his war on tech giants over what he and some other Republicans perceive as bias against conservatives.

The walls close in on Trump

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

With Bill Barr's "Et tu, Brute!" interview with AP, President Trump is watching the walls close in on his claims of fraud, hoaxes and conspiracies.

Why it matters: Trump and his legal team continue to claim election fraud. But the Republican governors of Arizona and Georgia have certified their elections, a loyalist like Barr has weighed in, and lower-ranking officials have taken potshots.