Republicans expect at least "big changes" to the new health reform law as a result of their efforts, Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderObamaCare becomes political weapon for Democrats Senate passes resolution requiring mandatory sexual harassment training Sen. Warren sold out the DNC MORE (R-Tenn.) said Thursday.

Alexander, the third-ranking Republican member of the Senate, predicted that Republicans would be able to force major changes to the new healthcare system amidst pledges by many GOP candidates that they would seek to repeal the plan in its entirety. 

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The Tennessee Republican said he agreed with President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny Russian social media is the modern-day Trojan horse Trump records robo-call for Gillespie: He'll help 'make America great again' MORE's assertion that the healthcare bill was a proxy for a debate over the role in government in the U.S.

"And that's the debate we're going to have this year, and it's going to define every congressional race," Alexander told the editorial board of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "I think the healthcare bill will be the biggest symbol of it."

"As a result of that debate, I think there going to be at least big changes in the bill," Alexander added.

Healthcare is expected to be a central issue in this fall's campaign, and many Republicans have pledged to run on a pledge of repealing in whole the healthcare bill to have passed through Congress, which was signed into law by the president. 

But already, some Republicans have tempered their rhetoric on repeal, including Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrJuan Williams: The shame of Trump's enablers Five takeaways from the social media hearings Overnight Tech: Senators demand tech firms do more on Russian meddling | House Intel releases Russian-promoted ads | Apple CEO says 'fake news' bigger threat than ads | Ex-Yahoo CEO, Equifax execs to testify on breaches MORE (R-N.C.) and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTax Foundation: Senate reform bill would cost 6B GOP senators raise concerns over tax plan Dem House candidate apologizes for saying it 'shouldn't take brain cancer' for McCain to show courage MORE (R-Tenn.), as well as Rep. Mark KirkMark KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE, a Republican candidate for Senate in Illinois.

Those more measured pledges reflect the difficulty facing Republicans in their plans, even if they were to pick up the number of seats predicted in the most generous estimates of this fall's elections. Democrats would still be able to throw up procedural roadblocks in Congress, and Obama could veto any legislation to repeal his signature domestic policy.

At least one Republican, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore GOP strategist: 'There needs to be a repudiation' of Roy Moore by Republicans World leaders reach agreement on trade deal without United States: report MORE (Ariz.), did though suggest that the GOP is examining its options to sidestep a presidential veto in order to repeal healthcare law.