November 8th, 2009
11:44 AM ET
4 years ago

Cao says he put his district's needs over his party's wishes


Washington (CNN) - Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao said Sunday he put the needs of his district over the desire of his party in being the lone House Republican to vote for a sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system.

Related: Lone GOP vote came after call from Obama

Cao's "yes" vote ended up being unnecessary for House Democrats in the 220-215 tally, but as the only GOP member to support the bill, he gave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi license to tout bipartisan support for the controversial measure.

"I felt last night's decision was the proper decision for my district even though it was not the popular decision for my party," Cao, a first-term representative from Louisiana's traditionally Democratic 2nd District, told CNN.

"A lot of my constituents are uninsured, a lot of them are poor," Cao said. "It was the right decision for the people of my district."

The first Vietnamese-American to serve in the House, Cao defeated nine-term Democratic incumbent William Jefferson in last year's election. Jefferson was under indictment on money laundering and bribery charges at the time, and has since been convicted.

Cao, a devout Catholic, said Sunday that an amendment to strengthen anti-abortion language in the House bill cleared the way for his support.

"When that was worked out … I called the White House and said I could possibly support the bill," said Cao, adding he discussed getting continued help for his district as it seeks to fully recover from the impact of Hurricane Katrina.

Asked about the reaction of fellow Republicans to his vote, Cao said the party's leaders "respect my decision, and I respect theirs."

"To tell you the truth, neither one of us really knows what is the right decision," he said of the complex health care bill, citing differing reports and differing studies on its impact. "Ultimately, we have to make that leap of faith."

The bill's approval by the House late Saturday night marked a major step for Obama's top domestic priority. If the Senate now passes its own version, the two bills would be merged, and the final version would require approval from each chamber before being sent to the president for his signature.


Filed under: GOP • Health care • House • Louisiana • Popular Posts
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. T Bon

    If only Pelosi would stop using so many petro products to support that evil grin, we'd no longer be dependant of foreign oil...and what's another couple of trillion amongs friends..at least the next president will have ample ammo to say "i inherited this deficit..."

    November 8, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  2. the good doctor

    borrowing from china is not a financial strategy that will work forever. doubling the debt and reduing our personal liberties is not change. this is a classic case of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples money. this can already apply to us. 'other peoples money' is in fact people that make a good living and china as well as other foreign countries buying our debt. this is a failed policy. gold is up 50% year over year while the DOW is up 14%. This is called inflation and you should expect more of it with this out of control spending. Bring the troops home – all 600,000 troops in 70% of the world's countries, reducing the $1 trillion/year we spend overseas, and THEN let's talk about spending more money on socialism.

    November 8, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  3. Sue

    Thank you Mr. Cao. You stood up like a man and voted for what was
    right for the American people.

    (I always thought you looked a little too humane to be a republican).

    November 8, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Wow. A Republican who cares more about people than his party and power and money....a true oxymoron indeed!

    November 8, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  5. Anonymous

    A republican with courage? No way!

    November 8, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  6. Shirley

    I am so impressed by this man and will not forget his name. He can count me as one of his supporters.

    November 8, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  7. Gary in Michigan

    To B. Petty: Joseph Cao represents a heavily Democratic district in New Orleans. He voted the wishes of his constituents. If the GOP wants to target his seat, that will assure that a Democrat will take it like a Democrat won in New York's North Country where some parts hadn't had a Democratic congressman since the 19th Century.

    November 8, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  8. Lou

    Congratulations Representative Cao. You have set an example that should be followed by both parties. I sincerely admire you.

    November 8, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  9. Susan

    Thank you Representative Cao. You are truly a man of courage.

    November 8, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  10. uluv2bthevictim

    "To tell you the truth, neither one of us really knows what is the right decision," he said of the complex health care bill, citing differing reports and differing studies on its impact. "Ultimately, we have to make that leap of faith."

    HAHAHA....Hilarious!

    Faith and Hope are not strategies for success! Stupid Politicians could never run a business. They should not be running the government.

    November 8, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  11. art sanchez

    Mr. Cao is an honorable man with integrity! Our country will benefit if others in the Senate demonstrate the same integrity.

    November 8, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  12. jim

    this is what a politician SHOULD do ... vote their constituents needs and desires. i don't care WHAT party you belong to, if you aren't representing your constituents you have NO RIGHT to hold office!!!!!

    I am disgusted by the far right wingers trying to slam Mr. Cao ... they should be ashamed of themselves.

    November 8, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  13. Joan

    Isn't this what elected officials are supposed to do? Aren't they elected to represent their constituent's wishes and to do what is best for their district? It appears that there are two Republicans who have real character and can make up their own minds about important matters. This man and Olympia Snowe may just go down in history as two lawmakers who turned the tide and helped bring much needed health care reform. Good for them. Shame on the right wingers who will try to shred their integrity and opinions. It is supposed to be a democratic country so they should be able to vote their conscience without being attacked.

    November 8, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. Not Selfish, and a patriotic American

    Beth, Tata Mcgee, Johnny DC, phoenix 86:

    HAVE YOU READ THE ENTIRE BILL? There is help out there for those who are illiterate and it is paid for by our new president. Use it wisely. By the way, welcome to the new century. Racists are on their way out.

    November 8, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  15. Jason

    One GOP votes yes, and Pelosi runs her mouth about bipartisanship. Weak sauce.

    I'm actually rather surprised that more Republicans did not vote for it, considering the amendment to remove federal funds for abortions.

    November 8, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  16. ATLmac

    Have you considered switching parties, Mr. Cao?

    November 8, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  17. robbie

    traitor.

    November 8, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  18. TLS

    A previous poster, James, said:

    "If we had more politicians who represented the people and not the party we would be so much better off."

    If this were true, this bill never would have passed. Most of the American people are against this bill. You'll see the proof with the 2010 elections.

    November 8, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  19. robbie

    i should say traiorS... all 220 of them

    November 8, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  20. Frank

    It is clear that Mr. Cao should be the leader of the republican party, not Mr. Steele.

    November 8, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  21. Anonymous

    I hate people. All you dirtbags who keep whinging about somebody else getting your money are dirt bags. This entire 'I got mine so screw you" mentality is disgusting.

    November 8, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  22. Debby

    Well Cao better hope that he did the right thing for his district because if none of us know how much this government plan will cover us down the road. Pelosi comparing Medicare to this is like apples and oranges. You can't get Medicare till after 65 so this automatically brings the cost down of that, and Medicare doesn't pay for the whole bill either, and if your in rehab they cover 100 days then your on your own. This is the government run health care everyone is rushing to want. My grandmother has Aetna and after Medicare ditched her in rehab her secondary insurance covered the rest of the time she had to be there plus paid the other 20% Medicare didn't cover.

    November 8, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  23. S.B.

    "This man being elected in first place only serves to demonstrate how the uneducated dump people in Lousiana vote!"

    I should remind you that highly educated people usually vote Democrat. And perhaps the "dump people" really need the help that clearly they feel the Democratic vote can give them.

    November 8, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. Rosebud

    Congratulations to his District for voting for a strong and brave representative!

    November 8, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  25. SNAPPA

    So many doomsayers, so many ignorant people. Protesting something they know nothing about. Watching elderly protest the health care reform all the while collecting a government run health care of their own. SHAME on all those hateful dispicable people holding those holocaust signs equating that with health care reform. If the Republicans really hate the public option then why don't they give up their government run health insurance? Its amazing how a black man could elicit such feelings in Americans, I don't know what they don't like more health care reform or the fact we now have a black president calling the shots and the white boy club has been broken.

    November 8, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
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