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Republicans say they'll try again to repeal and replace the ACA. Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

Congressional Republicans have failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but some of them aren't ready to stop campaigning on that promise. "I don't see any problem with talking about repeal and replace. We still want to do it. It's not over," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said.

Why it matters: Some Republicans are loathe to admit defeat in a battle they've been waging for years. But the only thing worse than breaking your promise once is breaking it again and again — and that's where some conservatives fear their party is headed. "They can't stop themselves. It's an addiction and an unhealthy one at that," one former GOP aide said of the repeal and replace effort.

What they're saying: After campaigning — and winning — on a repeal-and-replace platform since 2010, some Republicans are hesitant to let the promise go.

  • "We're going to keep trying. We'll try a third time. If it doesn't work, we'll try a fourth or fifth or sixth or seventh. We'll eventually get it done," Sen. John Kennedy said.

But many Republican policy experts — and some elected officials — say it's probably time for the GOP to refocus its health care energy toward smaller changes to the ACA and the system overall. And they're afraid a continued political focus on repeal-and-replace would make it harder to achieve anything.

  • "I think that language has proved unhelpful and the messaging should be changed," said Doug Holtz-Eakin, an advisor to John McCain's presidential campaign. "Time to leave that baggage behind."

Between the lines: Republicans never fully agreed on what "repeal and replace" would have looked like, and might need to redefine that promise if they intend to keep campaigning on it.

  • "This is a question of do you make the marketplace to where it's not only affordable for the taxpayer, for subsidies, but affordable for the individuals that purchase," Sen. Richard Burr said. "If you create a different individual market, you have repealed and replaced."
  • Repeal and replace "was a slogan, and apparently many Republicans didn't believe it. And really, to tell you the truth, someone's sloganeered up here repeal and replace, but really if you went to every Republican campaign throughout the last 10 years, we talked about repealing it," Sen. Rand Paul told me.
  • "So far, we haven't been able to demonstrate that we can get 50 votes for a repeal and replace alternative. So, you know, how you phrase it and how you message it probably is somewhat at work," Sen. John Thune said.

Go deeper

Virginia energy giant quietly boosts McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, which has been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin.

3 hours ago - Technology

Race and technology in America

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The technology industry is famously determined to change the world — but its efforts to diversify its workforce and remove bias from its products haven't changed nearly enough.

Biden: "Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been"

President Biden speaks during the 40th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service at the U.S Capitolon Oct. 16. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden speaking at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday honored members of law enforcement who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2021 and saluted those who are currently serving.

Driving the news: "We expect everything of you, and it's beyond the capacity of anyone to meet the total expectations. Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been," Biden said.

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