“I’ve long maintained there are three possible routes to repeal of ObamaCare: the courts, the presidential election, and our constitutional responsibility for oversight,” Boehner wrote in a letter to House Republicans earlier this month. “With two of them having come up short, the third and final of these becomes more important than ever.”

Republicans insist that they’ll keep up their opposition to the law until repeal becomes a possibility again — when Obama leaves office in 2017. But by then, America will have been living with the law’s biggest pieces in place for more than three years. The tax subsidies, individual mandate and insurance exchanges will have been in effect for three years, assuming they are enacted on schedule in 2014.

And some in the party concede that taking a government benefit away from people is extremely difficult.