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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Thursday told the Republican rank-and-file there will be no celebrating in Congress if the Supreme Court rules against President Barack Obama's sweeping healthcare reform law.
"No one knows what the court will decide," Boehner said in a memo to fellow Republicans. "But if the court strikes down all or part of the president's healthcare reform law, there will be no spiking of the ball."
He underlined the last eight words to emphasize his reference to the NFL football end-zone celebration.
Boehner fears Republican gloating over a court victory could detract from the party's emphasis on the struggling economy and the need for job growth, two campaign issues that consistently trump healthcare as voter priorities in national opinion polls.
"We will not celebrate," Boehner said, during a time of unemployment and rising government debt and healthcare costs.
The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obama's signature domestic policy achievement, would extend health coverage to millions of uninsured people, establish new consumer protections and seek to reorganize the delivery of care with the intent of lowering costs and boosting efficiency.
But 26 U.S. states have asked the high court to overturn the measure, saying it exceeds the federal government's constitutional authority.
Polls show the law, dubbed "Obamacare" by critics, is unpopular with most Americans. Republicans have vowed to repeal anything the Supreme Court leaves standing.
A ruling is expected by the end of next week.
Reporting By David Morgan; Editing by Xavier Briand