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. Brian - Milwaukee

    What A Crime. The demise of America right in front of us, and few are doing anything to stop this. There will be an economic depression in 2030 – 2040 as a result of this if in fact we don't come to our senses and stop this now. We will bankrupt America.

    November 8, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  2. vic nashville , Tn

    I appreciate Mr.Cao

    Republicans lost one vote for me that is big vote it came from minority

    November 8, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  3. Dr. Jim Taylor

    Amazing! A politician responding to his constituents best interests over his party's wishes. Now that's a concept that needs to go viral.

    November 8, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  4. Libertarian

    WOW! A well balanced politician? where'd he come from?

    I like his last quote which is probably the ultimate truth "neither of us really knows the right decision". There ya go. So he broke ranks with the party of "No" and decided to do what was best for the people that voted him in. This week we'll see the GOP tear him apart for being concerned about Americans. Go ahead Rush...fresh meat for your ratings.

    November 8, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  5. Anthony Brown

    Putting his district's needs over his party's wishes. Way to go Rep Cao.

    November 8, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  6. ken

    Looks like we have one honorable republican. Thanks Cao.

    November 8, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. Larry

    Bravo to Cao ...

    A Republican with real guts and sincere concern for the people of this country

    A rarity in the Republican party

    November 8, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  8. GatorDoc

    "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step..." Thank you Representative Cao for voting your heart and serving the people who elected you.

    November 8, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  9. Mike

    Enjoy your last year Cao, you will be voted out come mid-term elections. Traitor.

    November 8, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  10. Dawn, Ada, Ohio

    What a novel concept: a Representative that is actually doing what his constituents want him to do. Perhaps the rest of the House Republicans should have listened. I smell a change in the air and come 2010 I believe a lot of people who didn't listen to their constituents will be going home to their districts and staying home. I'm sure the insurance industry and big pharma will welcome them with open arms. I also hope that the people will be looking into who the 38 Dems were that voted this down and send them packing as well.

    November 8, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  11. Voted4HealthCare

    Thank you, Rep. Cao, for putting the interests of your constituents first ahead of party. God bless you and other House members for passing the bill.

    Now, onto the Senate where they should pass the same health care with a public option supported by the majority of Americans.

    Health Reforms Now for our country!

    November 8, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  12. rosie

    well, ONE republican finally gets it...................REPRESENT your district, NOT your party!

    November 8, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  13. bj

    FINALLY...someone is doing the right thing for the right reasons: what is best for THEIR DISTRICT instead of their party. My hat is off to Cao!! God Bless Him!

    November 8, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  14. Peter H Peier

    This is a great day for America, finally "the right thing to do" has taken precedence over "greed and politics".

    November 8, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  15. ran

    Good for him but now the Republicans will go after him because he did what we all want our elected officials to do which is to get things done.

    If the republicans would grow up stop their temper tantrums and work with the Democrats and this President; health care could have been done already and we could have gone on to energy,immigration and jobs. But no they have to be more concern with power and division/hate/fear and obstructionism.

    I hope we in 2010/2012 vote in even more Democrats and/or Idependents then Republicans to show how upset we are with their actions.

    November 8, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  16. CRob

    1 vote does not make it bipartisan. Has anyone checked to see if this is unconstitutional???

    November 8, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  17. Ken in NC

    It took guts for a first term congressman to go against the wishes of his party but Rep. Cao was elected to represent the people of his district and he did it last night. He voted for what he felt was most beneficial for his people first and I am sure the Republican Leaders in congress will strike back at him but I wish more congressmen would consider the people they represent above special interest and big business. Congratulations Congressman for a job well done. As you said in the interview, you had to take a leap of faith because no one knows if it was the right thing to do. What we do know is that what we are doing now is not working for any one except the health care industry and it's working for them is killing us.

    Thank you again Congressman for having guts.

    November 8, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  18. Matt

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

    Try some sensitivity when you use words like "rape". Such a cavelier attitude toward rape, and the casual use of such a word points to the problem that is at the heart of conservatives' problems - a total lack of compassion for anyone but themselves.

    With support from the AMA and the AARP, the only ones still whining are the party of no - as usual.

    November 8, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  19. Danny Hunt

    Question from the Republican House Leader John Boehner.

    Q. Where are the Jobs?

    A. Here are the answers.

    Republicans – Where are the Jobs?

    The Republican Bush administration economic policies lead to the economic collapse and what was said to be by some another great depression.

    When the U.S. economy collapses and is heading into what could be another great depression, Jobs are lost.

    Jobs are a lagging economic indicator and Jobs are lost during an economic collapse, recession, and contraction.

    This is where the Republican Jobs are and this should answer the Republican house leader’s question of where are the Jobs?

    Democrats – Where are the Jobs?

    Jobs are a lagging economic indicator and Jobs are lost during an economic collapse, recession, and contraction.

    A leading economic indicator is the Stock Market and this economic indicator is determined by economists and investors who analyze and determine where the economy is heading and invest in the Stock Market. The confidences in the current administration economic policies are also considered.

    The Stock Market is now over 10000 since its collapsing March low of 6549.

    Jobs usually follow growth and the U.S. economy is now growing.

    So the Obama administration Jobs are coming.

    November 8, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  20. Kevin in Ohio

    This just shows that Cao is scared that the people of his district will find any excuse to elect another criminal democrat like Jefferson in his place. And the people of his district are stupid enough to do matter how Cao voted.

    November 8, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  21. Both Shoes

    Funny how a Republican who votes the way his district wants is brave and honorable – so what do we call the Dems who voted against the wishes of their district?? – Flunkies I should suspect would be the best term – no bravery there. Ah blind party loyalty a Republican only affliction – um not!

    November 8, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  22. Palermo

    A congressman who actually votes according to the wishes and needs of the very people who elected him? Amazing!

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

    JohnnyDC, because someone is unemployed doesn't make them lazy. If you want to find the reason why only 20% of Americans now call themselves Republicans, look no further than your own comments. MORON!!!

    November 8, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  24. Mike from Macungie, PA

    I am deeply impressed by this single bi-partisan vote; not from any big name republican while it is from a first term congressman of Louisiana, one of our poorest states.

    Mr. Cao represents mostly Vietnamese-American in a historical movement and speaks by his vote for those who cannot afford health insurance. In the end, history books may record this leap of faith is the decisive one for the nation.

    There is a shortage of diversity in the two major parties in this country. It seems democrats have to be liberal, and republicans have to be conservative.

    Mr. Cao certainly has broken this cast of mode and showed his willingness to choose his constituents over his party.

    November 8, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  25. Bill

    And this idiot will be voted out next election.

    November 8, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
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