March 19th, 2010
05:05 PM ET
5 years ago

Cao: 'Right now, I am a firm no'


Washington (CNN) – The only House Republican who previously supported the health care reform bill said Friday that the issue of abortion is a stumbling block for him as a final House vote approaches.

"Right now, I am a firm no, because I do believe that the Senate language on the abortion issue is insufficient for me to support the Senate bill," Rep. Ahn "Joseph" Cao, R-Louisiana, told CNN's Brianna Keilar,

The Louisiana Republican said his concern was that the final legislative package unveiled Thursday by Democrats does not apply to the Hyde Amendment, the longstanding policy against federal funding of abortions, to the federal dollars provided to community health centers.

Cao also said that he thought the language in the Senate bill, which is set for consideration by the House, does not do enough to comply with the Hyde Amendment.

"The present language in the Senate bill provides a tremendous loophole for federal funds of abortion and will eventually expand abortion services," he said.

Cao added, "Based on my reading of the Senate bill, many of the fundings through the health care reform bill will not be subject to the Hyde Amendment."

Asked about the fact that his congressional district is overwhelmingly Democratic and in support of health care reform, the Catholic lawmaker responded, "It is not wrong to vote against what my constituents want but it is wrong to vote against my own conscience."

Cao said if a coalition of House Democrats led by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, succeeds in getting stronger language regarding abortion funding into the final legislation, that would "open the door" to him reconsidering his vote.

Related video: Stupak still a 'no'

Last year, when the House passed its own version of health care reform, Cao surprised many political observers by being the only Republican to vote in favor of that bill, a piece of legislation that included provisions regarding abortion demanded by Stupak's coalition.


Filed under: Abortion • Health care
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Josh

    No to a goverment run heath care

    March 19, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  2. jm from sc

    Amen Stacie. First of all, Republicans need to realize that you can not legislate morals.

    This bill does not provide federal funding for abortion. This is not the bill to try and reverse Roe vs Wade. Republicans just may as well leave that alone until the constitutions are changed. That is how they won the case in the first place. Many other cases were won by our constitutions.

    This man believes in this bill, but is trying to remain friends with his party. He would not have voted yes in the beginning otherwise.

    He should follow his heart and consider the millions of people who will recieve health care.

    What if a woman changes her mind about having an abortion; that same child is borned with a pre-existing condition which prevents it from getting health care. Would Republicans be proud of themselves for "Killing the Bill?"

    March 19, 2010 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  3. Change In America

    Vote cao out the office.

    Republicans of NO

    March 19, 2010 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  4. Red by Choice

    no......utill the bribe gets big enough.

    March 19, 2010 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  5. Jeff in Houston

    Hush all of this talk wanted to draw and quarter this man. Keep him alive. I want him as an example of a Neanderthal when the Texas School Book Board (another religous extemeist group right up there with the Taliban) decides to stop teaching evolution. I want to be able to point to guys like this and say, see, this is what we used to be like before we evolved and became rational beings. Nothing teaches quite like an example of arrested mental development.

    March 19, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  6. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    This guy shouldn't have a vote period. He knows nothing about health care to begin with, he's just a coward trying to stay in a majority where he doesn't fit anyway.

    March 19, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  7. John

    The least Representative Cao can be is honest in his vote on health care, it has nothing to do with abortion and everything to do with holding the republican block vote.

    Health care reform will be a great benefit to Representative Cao's congressional district and he knows it but, he will march in lockstep with his GOP Insurance Company Gang.

    This is the reason every middle class American needs to vote Democrat in every election.

    March 19, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  8. Jim

    Rep. Cao, you disappoint me! Like you and Rep. Kildee (D-MI, who switched to support the reform), I studied for years in the Catholic seminary. You and Rep. Stupak's group are plain wrong about abortion funding in the healthcare reform.

    Pres. Obama's reform will extend coverage to millions of the uninsured, outlaw abusive insurance practices, provide incentives to control healthcare costs, reduce the deficit by $138 billion, and not provide abortion funding. The Catholic Health Association and leaders of 50,000 religious sisters have also endorsed the reform package.

    The nuns know best! Please have the courage to do the right thing at this moment in history by supporting our President's healthcare reform.

    March 19, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  9. Jamie from Riverside

    Coa only changed his vote because he saw his conservative fundraising dry up after he voted what was the right thing to do. How can this loser sleep at night knowing he's doing to his constituents?

    March 19, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  10. Adam CT

    What CNN is not telling you is that this guy lost 40% of his funding after he voted yes the first time. Totally within the donors' rights to do so, but lets not pretend this is some sort of principled stand from Cao. It is about keeping his seat. It is about regaining the funding Cao that he believes is necessary to win reelection. He is just latching on to the fake abortion funding controversy that has been debunked a million times over as political cover for this switch. He can't latch on to the absurd lies such as death panels because he did vote yes the first time and it wouldn't look very good for him to have previously supported the fake doom and gloom prophecies portrayed by the rest of his party.

    March 19, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  11. Cheryl

    I don't think any Republican will have the guts to go against their party line. Republicans are not big on free thought.

    March 19, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  12. stop the nonsense

    don't write representitives her- email or fax them to their Washington office.
    Phone numbers, faxes and emial addreddes can be found on google

    March 19, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  13. Haas

    This guy knows he's going to lose is re-election, will not get help from the Dems and needs Rep support. Sad thing is, he won't get it so he'd be smarter to switch parties and try to appeal his largely Black district. I kind of feel sorry for the guy. He's not all that politically astute. He can be a Dem and still oppose abortion.

    March 19, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  14. usualone

    Men should not be judging the rights of women. Interesting that the abortion situation affects the whole bill. So what if those 30 million folk don't get coverage. Those living folk will have a better chance of dying without insurance coverage. These guys have to get it!!! Living people need help NOW.

    March 19, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  15. NC

    Thank You Rep. Cao.......this so called health care bill will destory the United States......how are you suppose to pay for obamacare or pay for a penalty if you do not want obamacare if you do not have a job....due the the economy........the economy and jobs should have been first on obamas list.....God help the US.....Vote wisely in 2010 and 2012.....

    March 19, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  16. John in WV

    I'd think that if you represent a poor part of this country, you would take into consideration that the lack of health care in your district might be one thing that is making the people you represent poorer and adds to their personal debt. Then, if you still think abortions will be paid for under health reform and health reform will not help your people, just vote no.

    March 19, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  17. Kevin B

    It is the republicans who should be afraid of the November elections, once middle class america finds out just how much they have been lied too by the GOP and it's fear and smear tactics over the past 12 months.

    Keep doing what is right by americans and the democrats will have nothing to worry about in November.

    March 19, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  18. one of the few conservatives who watches cnn

    just say no bro!

    March 19, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  19. John

    Representative Cao will obey his party rulers and his party rulers will continue lying about health care reform.

    The GOP "party of no" has been blocking middle class fairness issues since their formation. The GOP is the "party of the rich" and they will continue to engage in class warfare every chance they get.

    To be a member of this exclusive rich peoples club you must vote as told!

    March 19, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  20. Jamie

    What a hypocrite – last time he made such a big deal out of caring more for his constituents needs – and they remain desperate – than politics. I guess the big guns in the Republican party got to him.

    March 19, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  21. Jamie

    Kevin in Ohio – The BIPARISAN budget committee says this bill, if past, will wipe billions, and eventually more than a trillion dollars off the deficit. It's said that there's not an ounce of courage in the Republican party.

    March 19, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  22. rory

    to some republican guy, smoke another one.

    March 19, 2010 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  23. badger

    We lost over 50000 soldiers in Viet Nam and this guy is going to vote no on health care? Shamefully he's more party than country, not like the 50000 who died in Viet Nam. Maybe we could send him back there.

    March 19, 2010 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  24. Shelly

    How quick the 'moral' Republicans were to gladly approve trillions into an unnecessary killing of people in Iraq, but now they have become 'fiscally responsible' , and resolutely refuse to spend a dime to save lives and financial survival of millions of Americans?

    March 19, 2010 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  25. Eddie B.

    He will never vote for healthcare again. He knows he accidently slipped and pressed the wrong button. LOL!!! I know that the Republicans came down on him so hard that he ran like a little girl. Instead of being a pioneer and having a voice of your own, you folded to your party's pressure to say "no" to anything obama.

    March 19, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
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