PhotoObamacare is the Timex watch of laws.

For those not old enough to recall, watchmaker Timex once ran an advertising campaign subjecting the inexpensive watch to all manner of torture, only to show it emerge unscathed, with the ad's tag line declaring Timex "takes a licking and keeps on ticking."

With control of the House, Senate, and White House, Republicans have made several attempts to repeal the health care law, only to come up short. At this point, Obamacare is still ticking.

The latest attempt in the Senate failed Tuesday after Sen. John McCain, battling cancer, dramatically returned to the capital to cast a deciding vote to allow a vote on the Senate's latest effort -- a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

But on Twitter, McCain made clear he was only voting to allow debate on the GOP bill. He wasn't going to support the measure itself.

'Shell of a bill'

"It's a shell of a bill right now, we all know that," McCain tweeted. "I have changes urged by my state's governor that will have to be included to earn my support for final passage of any bill."

When it came time to vote Tuesday, McCain and eight other Republicans joined all Democrats in voting against the repeal legislation, despite a plea from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell expressed his frustration on the Senate floor before the vote.

“The American people elected a House with a vision of a better way on health care, then a Senate, then a president. Now, we have a duty to act," McConnell said. "The president is ready with his pen. The House has passed legislation already. Today, it’s the Senate’s turn."

But the repeal measure lost badly, 43-57. And a former high-ranking GOP congressional leader predicts it will keep on losing.

Mission impossible

The Washington Post has posted video of former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), speaking to a trade show audience in Las Vegas suggesting the GOP Congress faces a nearly impossible task.

"Here we are, seven months into this year, and yet they've not passed this bill," Boehner said. "They're not going to repeal and replace Obamacare. It's been around too long and the American people have gotten accustomed to it."

There is a longstanding truism in American politics that you don't remove an entitlement once people are benefiting from it. According to Boehner, it's too late.

Politics has also complicated the Republicans task. Politico boils down the problem for Republicans in two sentences.

"Moderates oppose repealing Obamacare without a replacement, and conservatives don’t like the idea of significantly replacing it," the political website notes. "Both policies are expected to get a vote, but both are expected to fail."

And so Obamacare is likely to keep on ticking for a while longer.

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