Republicans are unlikely to repeal the health reform legislation before Congress if they take control of the House and Senate, a GOP senator conceded Wednesday.

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) said Republicans are unlikely to be able to repeal the legislation anytime in the near future.

"Technically it could be peeled back if the circumstances were right," Crapo said during an appearance on a conservative news radio syndicate. "But we would have to have a president who would sign such a bill, and we would have to have 60 votes in the Senate -- not just 50."

"So it would be a very tall order, and frankly, the likelihood's that that's not going to develop in the near future," he added.


Republicans have been somewhat reluctant to pledge that they would repeal the health bill, which is likely to pass in a preliminary form tomorrow morning in the Senate.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) declined to say whether the GOP should run on a "repeal" message during an appearance Wednesday on ABC News's "Top Line" webcast.

“The message should be ‘the debt is the threat,’” he said. “That is the problem with our nation right now.”

But one senior House Republican explicitly vowed on Wednesday to attempt repealing key elements of the health bill if the GOP wins back the House next fall.

"I'm reasonably optimistic that they're just playing games with themselves; that this isn't going to become law," said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, during an appearance on "Dateline Washington," the same program as the one on which Crapo appeared.

If it does, I think it helps put the Republicans in the majority. And then I will, as the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, if the Republican conference gives me that privilege, I'll move to repeal a lot of this stuff," Barton added.