In it, but not of it. TPM DC

House Republican Rebranding Effort Suffers Major Setback

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The legislation failed because it was neither a straight attack on the ACA, which likely could have passed with Republican votes alone, nor a genuine effort to improve it. It was a backdoor attempt to damage a permanent piece of Obamacare -- which alienated the entire Democratic party -- in order to temporarily bolster another part of the law, costing them conservative votes.

Earlier in the day, conservative GOP members spoke out against the measure, lamenting that it merely tinkers with the law when they wanted nothing less than repeal. Some said they opposed the high-risk pool portion of the law to begin with, despite its popularity among many Republicans and conservative health care wonks.

"Subsidizing health care is not what Republicans should be about," Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) said at a Capitol Hill event organized by the Heritage Foundation.

Conservative groups were split on the legislation. While FreedomWorks and Grover Norquist's Americans For Tax Reform supported it as an effort to undermine Obamacare, Heritage Action and Club For Growth urged lawmakers to vote against it.

The bill cleared a procedural vote in the afternoon and was all set for an up-or-down floor vote before House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) office announced its cancellation.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-VA) top aide suggested they may try again another day.

"We're going to continue to work the bill. We had positive conversations today and made good progress. We remain focused on stopping the biggest entitlement expansion in a generation," Cantor's deputy chief of staff Doug Heye told TPM in an email. "We intend to bring the bill back up when Congress returns in May."