November 8th, 2009
11:44 AM ET
10 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. tata mcgee

    The violation is now complete. Obama, Pelosi and the Democrat party have raped us.

    November 8, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  2. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    Well said Mr. Cao, but you will pay dearly for putting a higher priority on the health of you constituents than the "christian's" agenda of your party of NO.

    What a refreshing break from the normal con drivel. I commend you for your vote and even more so, since you must surely know the real party lead Lush Limprick will come down hard and you will be ousted.

    But, I admire your principles and may God bless you!

    November 8, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  3. James

    Wow! Voting as his constituents would want for him to vote. What a novel concept for a representative.
    If we had more politicians who represented the people and not the party we would be so much better off.

    November 8, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  4. Susan in NC

    Thank you, Representative Cao, for standing up for what you believed right for your constituents and for America. It took intelligence and courage to make that difficult decision and I respect and applaud you for it!

    November 8, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  5. Johnny DC

    So let me get this straight - If you represent a district entirely full of jobless lazy poor people, and the measure being voted upon was to kill the wealthiest 10% of the population and give their wealth directly to the unemployed, then you should vote in favor of the measure because it betters the lives of your people?

    Sometimes you have to examine aspects outside the realm of "what's best for my constituents".

    This bill hurts us all. While benefiting those who are extremely poor, this bill drastically hurts our economy and our health system as a whole.

    November 8, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  6. Terry from West Texas

    Now this is something that is seldom encountered: a Republican with character, principles, and courage. I salute Rep. Cao for standing up for what he thinks is right. Most Republican elected officials fall all over each other trying to toe the party line and mouth the daily party propaganda points. It is doubly surprising that this courageous man was elected from Louisiana, a state whose public servants are mediocre at best and corrupt as a rule.

    I predict that Rep. Cao's future with the Republican Party will be bitter and short. If there's anything that Conservative leaders cannot stand, it is courage. You can't make a courageous man into a puppet.

    November 8, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  7. Greg

    So, in the entire GOP there is one that is not a teabagger and has the guts for the will of the people. He's the real hero.

    November 8, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  8. ZimaAdler

    Thanks, Chairman Cao. We are very proud of your helping liberal House allies, President Obama and Nancy Pelosi finally get what they have been creating behind closed doors these past months - a government-run health care experiment that will increase families' health care costs, increase the deficit, increase taxes on small businesses and the middle class, and cut Medicare. As in the words of your own party.

    November 8, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  9. phoenix86

    His vote just helped ensure that he constituents continue poor and uninsured. A vote for the Pelosi Bill was a vote to worsen the economy and choke off any recovery.

    Cao should start calculating how much higher unemployment can go in his district before he himself becomes unemployed by the voters.

    Most democrats should be doing this math now.

    November 8, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  10. ed

    So Congressman Cao sold his vote for more cash for hurricane relief. He sounds like a good Democrat to me. Maybe he should become one.

    November 8, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  11. phoenix86

    No way Nancy can truthfully say this was a bi-partisan vote to approve. If that i the case, then Repbulicans can say that there was bipartisan support against the Pelosi bill, but the far left mentally handicapped has the ultimate majority.

    November 8, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  12. Cammie

    Did this man just they had to make that leap of faith! WHAT! You make a leap of faith with your OWN money and health care NOT the American people!

    This Congress has no clue but in due time they will......

    November 8, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  13. joc,alabama

    Representive Cao,I have much respect for you,good job congressman

    November 8, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  14. Linda

    Let's hope that Reid, Pelosi, and everyone that voted for this are in the unemployment line with the rest of the Americans after this goes into effect. Let's hope someone in the Senate has enough sense (I doubt it though) to kill this and not let it get any further. I think the House and Senate will see a completely new group in place after the 2010 elections. It's very obivous that no on on the hill has heard anything the taxpaying American people have said and are only putting their egos and agendas before the American people. Change will come in the 2010 and 2012 elections.

    November 8, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  15. John

    Thank You for the courage to vote in the interest of your constituents rather than your party. Now brace for impact, I am sure you are going to be ambushed by the teabaggers.

    November 8, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  16. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "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."

    It was the "right decision" to try to make the rest of the country subsidise his constituents? What makes the residents of Louisiana's Second District so special that they can demand the benefits of other people's labours? Who gave them the right to pick other people's pockets?

    The defining characteristics of Liberals–and, technically Republican or not, Cao seems to be one–is the perpetual search for some sucker who can be forced to pay their bills.

    November 8, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  17. Mark

    Adding one trillion dollars to our national debt when end America.

    He will be out next election.

    November 8, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. tommoriarty

    The house has passed a health care bill.

    There will be a revolt, one way or another.

    Best Regards

    November 8, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  19. Randy, San Francisco


    November 8, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  20. Beth

    Many thanks to Congressman Cao for putting the rights of his constituents ahead of the profits of the insurance companies. And I admire his courage in standing up to the bullying tactics of the politics-first minority. He represents the principle: Of the people, by the people and for the people.

    November 8, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  21. B. Petty

    If Cao is reelected when his term is up, then the people of Louisiana are either stupid or really sick! This man being elected in first place only serves to demonstrate how the uneducated dump people in Lousiana vote!

    November 8, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  22. Proud member of "Global Zero:

    I applaud this rep. I just wish the reps in Texas would follow suit. Both of these states are in dire need of a Public Option. Thank you to my rep Congressman Wexler. I will miss you.

    November 8, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  23. Randy, San Francisco

    Representative Anh Cao is welcome to join the big tent of the Democratic Pary if the extreme right wing of the GOP led by Rush Limbaugh wants to punish him.

    November 8, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  24. Jason

    This was definetely a surprise. I think that everyone was hoping that the republicans would vote party lines so that when this policy fails (if the bill is eventually inacted into law) the nation would only have to look to the democrats for blame. I hope Joseph enjoys his last term as a republican member of the house.

    November 8, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  25. N.O. Voter

    Thanks Congressman Cao for representing our district and hearing our voices. It's so refreshing to have a congressman that votes for the people, and not lock step with a party.

    November 8, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
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