The GOP will not try to repeal Obamacare in 2018.

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After several attempts to fulfill one of the party's centralcampaign promises ended in embarrassing defeatlast year and polls show that the landmark health law is more popular than ever,Republican leaders in the House and the Senate see a lot of riskand little reward in trying again.

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Getting a bill through the Senate has only become harder sinceDemocrats picked up a Senate seat in a December special election inAlabama, leaving Republicans with a slim, two-seat majority in theupper chamber.

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“It would be a heavy lift. I think everybody knows,” Sen. JohnThune,R-S.D., tells Politico. “We sort of tested the limits of what we can do inthe Senate last year. And we're one vote down from where we werethen.”

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In fact, there's little hope that Congress will even pass abudget this year, which would allow Republicans to use thereconciliation process necessary to get a bill through the Senatewith only 51 votes.

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Rather than engage in an effort that is both unpopular andlikely won't succeed, Republicans hope to focus in the comingmonths on promoting the tax bill that they passed inDecember. They believe that is their best bet for improving theirpoor standing with voters and keeping control of Congress after themidterm elections in November.

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Even Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the leader of theultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, conceded that anAffordable Care Act repeal is unlikely in 2018. But he isoptimistic that it could happen in 2019 if Republicans hold theirground in the elections.

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“If we keep the majority in the House and they get a largermajority in the Senate then you might look at a reconciliationvehicle after November.”

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While Democrats are confident that they will pick up seats inthe House, the Senate elections this year greatly favor the GOP.Democrats are defending seats in 10 states that President DonaldTrump carried in 2016, while Republicans are only defending oneseat in a state that Hillary Clinton won. To gain a majority in theSenate, Democrats will have to pick up two seats in Nevada andArizona while protecting their incumbents in a number of solidlyred states, such as West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana andMontana.

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