Sen. Alexander: If not repeal, at least 'big changes' to healthcare law are expected

Republicans expect at least "big changes" to the new health reform law as a result of their efforts, Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderBipartisan gun measure survives test vote Overnight Healthcare: GOP plan marks new phase in ObamaCare fight Stoddard: The great Trump rebellion 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 ObamaTrump on NAFTA: Renegotiate or withdraw Nigel Farage: Trump better for UK than Obama Obama lauds abortion decision from Supreme Court 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 BurrOvernight Cybersecurity: Hackers hit Brexit petition Senate Intel leader: ISIS using encrypted apps to plan attacks Gun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA MORE (R-N.C.) and Bob CorkerBob CorkerGOP senator: Something 'very, very good' can come from Brexit vote GOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote MORE (R-Tenn.), as well as Rep. Mark KirkMark KirkOvernight Healthcare: Blame game over Zika funding Overnight Healthcare: Biggest abortion rights win in 25 years | Justice Kennedy again steps to the left The Trail 2016: Warren takes VP batting practice 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 McCainThe Trail 2016: 11 hours, 800 pages, 0 changed minds McChrystal backs McCain's Pentagon reform proposal McCain: 'It's up to every delegate to make up their own minds' MORE (Ariz.), did though suggest that the GOP is examining its options to sidestep a presidential veto in order to repeal healthcare law.


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