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. Stubborn for being stubborn

    Its' quite evident that the "Vote No", "right-wing" are simply arrogant
    and are exactly like George Bush, Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, etc.,etc.
    They double-speak Christianity. Christianity is guided by the love
    for your fellow-man, and not Me and Myself. You're suppose to give your only coat but that would be impossible for their group-think. If they (them?) do they ever think of anyone else, what is their proof?

    November 8, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  2. Pam from

    HOORAY for MR. COA–At last a rep from my state to vote for his convictions and the GOOD of the country instead of the his party puppeteers and the GREEDY Insurance companies that tried to control him and the rest of the REP/CON SHEEP. There is still courage and accountability, though scarce, in the Rep PaRty. You go REP CAO!!!

    November 8, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  3. Ltl Lulu in FL

    This only proves that the Republicans are perfectly fine with the status quo and DO NOT want ANY reform for healthcare or more Republicans than one would have voted yes for this. Even though their amendment to take out any federal funding for abortions was taken out as they wished, even then they voted NO on the bill. So I say it's time to move forward. We cannot let one political party hold the country hostage and prevent our Country from progressively moving forward.

    November 8, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  4. quarterback

    Finally a Republican with morals.

    Anyone check hell recently?

    I think it froze over.

    November 8, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  5. Paul H

    This isn't a district issue this is a national issue. That's the problem with our political scene. California and east coast politics spreads like an infection to the rest of us. And the our major media networks are from the same regions giving a loud biased voice, over looking the rest of the nation.

    November 8, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  6. SensibleFella

    Unfortunately, Cao didn't realize that his democratic counterparts didn't do the same. As their constituents made it BLATENTLY clear that reform as written in this bill was NOT something they wanted, democrats voted along party lines and neglected the will of the people.

    Cao's first term will likely be he last. The same will undoubtedly hold true for the majority of those democrats who continue to thrust our country into the depths of an unsustainable future. A future replete with having burdened our children and grandchildren with debt that will never be paid.

    Since Cao has thrown away his career in the house he should have considered that the "right" decision would have been to stay with his party and vote no on this 2000 page travesty.

    November 8, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. Neal in Atlanta

    I will give Jim Marshal (D-GA) this much credit. He may be a Democrat (some say moderate, some say liberal) but at least he listened to the people of his district and voted against the bill. I am impressed because previously I didnt think he had the stones to vote against Princess Pelosi and the rest of his party. Well done Congressman Marshal

    November 8, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |

    I just love those that are delusional in believing that most Americans are opposed to this bill? They really need to stop watching Fox news, 76% of Americans are in FAVOR of health care reform. Barrack Obama is NOT out in the next election that is simply your wish not fact. There is something wrong with you people, you don't know any of the facts yet you seem to spew rhetorical nonsense that only you can understand. The democrats were elected with a great majority in both houses and the White House don't you think we knew what they were planning then, yet we still gave them a SUPER majority one in which the republicants' don't matter, a dose of reality is what you need STOP WATCHING FOX and you'll get it.

    November 8, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  9. Shannon

    I find it humorous and rather pathetic that people can describe the constituents of a district that was devastated by a natural disaster that the United States has done a horrible job of helping to recover as jobless lazy poor people. I think that this might actually be the most shinning example of how conservatives have absolutely no sense of reality. Of course coming from a group of people who are so concerned with the fate of small businesses and also tout free market capitalism it isn't totally surprising. They haven't yet realized that in free market capitalism small businesses get crushed.

    November 8, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  10. U.S. Citizen

    All I can say is that this blog shows just how left the Dems are and CNN....Give me a break when you say FOX are are no better by choosing the left.

    Healthcare-answer me this if it is so great--Why won't the Govt accept this healthcare plan for there own....hmmm....don't be so naive lefties...u and I can't afford to ensure the poor and the one's sitting at home making babies.....

    November 8, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  11. Fitz in Texas

    Neal in Atlanta November 8th, 2009 10:36 am ET

    The violation is just starting. That was just a sloppy wet kiss. The rape will commence if / when the Senate approves its version. After OBAMACARE is passed and everyone is under the heavy thumb of the government and dependent on the government for their healcare needs, the DemoNazis will go after our guns (especially after the latest shootings in Ft. Hood, TX and Orlando, FL) and we will then be truely defenseless. Our only hope is the elections in 2010 when we can get a few seats back in the House an Senate and take away that super majority. Then maybe in 2012 we can get a good conservative in the white house and start undoing the damage done by all these bleeding heart liberal democrats.
    I don't know about you....Neal in Atlanta....but when the "DemoNazis" even think of coming after my guns my story will be I sold all mine to some guy on the street so I could buy food to feed my family......that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    November 8, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. observer

    Finally Vietnam will have revange.....
    You will all pay, the time has come for Americans to suffer.

    November 8, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  13. Grizzly

    The outrage by the lunatic right wing fringe over healthcare reform is astounding, and just shows their ignorance. In the long run, this bill will SAVE money for the taxpayers. When the uninsured go to the emergency room, who pays for their care? We do, and this bill will end that. When people can't pay their bills because they are under-insured and file for bankruptcy, who picks up the tab? We do, and this bill will end that.

    It will also end the despicable practice of denying people care for pre-existing conditions. 45, 000 people die each year from a lack of healthcare. Where is the outrage about that, right-wingers? All of you claim to be such Christians, yet it's okay for your fellow Americans to die while health insurance companies make billions denying them coverage?

    If you want to complain about govt. spending and deficits, direct your outrage at the former administration, which spent money and racked up debt with the help of Repubs in Congress.

    Billions spent in Iraq with no end in sight, a Prescription Drug Plan passed with no way to pay for it, de-regulation of banks which caused the economy to crash, a 700 billion bail-out to Wall Street–where was your outrage then, all of you right-wing hypocrites?

    November 8, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  14. Jose Paulo Castro

    Sun, November 8, 2009 9:25:08 AM
    From: Paulo Castro


    As an independent citizen that fought almost daily to support providing national health care service to all USA citizens, I consider the approval of the Affordable Health Care Act as my own victory.

    It shows that individual active participation and contribution will continue to upgrade both our Democracy and our Capitalism for the better of we the people and send the greedy-corrupt-inept and lazy, to their obscure caverns of constant conspiracy.

    I still am a permanent critic of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, but I have no doubt or constriction to congratulate both on fighting to obtain this first step approval that our nation more than deserves.

    The Senate must now enhance this victory for our country by putting the entire new National Health Care system under the CONTROL, MANAGEMENT AND SUPERVISION of a commission conformed by all the States of the Union.

    The 60 years dark failure of the private insurance "industry" and the total insensitivity confronting the misery and suffering of more than 40 million people that could not cope with the greed and corruption of the industry, lobbyists and accomplices is sufficient reason to KEEP THE PRIVATE INSURANCE CORPORATIONS out of the National Health Care Service and from meddling between we the people and our health care needs.

    Now,it is our responsibility as citizens to practice healthy habits when eating, exercising and preventing illnesses from irresponsibly getting us sick, overcrowding the health facilities and putting the costs of our own medical attention on the shoulders of our fellow citizens.

    Thank you to the mass media for criticizing and or supporting my continuous e mails on this matter that I have land slided you over the course of the few pasts months.

    Jose Paulo Castro
    Forest Hills, New York.

    November 8, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. Neal in Atlanta

    Mr. Obama, Mr. Reid and Mrs. Pelosi

    You may shove this bill down our throats in 2009 but when the elections of 2010 and 2012 come around you may get a boot shoved up another orafice and find yourselvs out of a job. What a glorious day that will be.

    November 8, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. AustHall

    Good Work, Representative Cao!!!!!!

    November 8, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. Nan

    Cau should be congratulated for voting his conscience instead of his party!!!! I wish there were more people out there who were willing to vote for what's good for the country instead of worrying about being a Democrate or Republican. Everyone knows healthcare as it is, is not an option.

    November 8, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  18. patrick88

    mr cao should be a role model for the republican party but we all know this will never happen.

    November 8, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. tom

    Cao had better enjoy his moment in the sun. After his current term, we will see no more of him. The party, not the public, rules !

    November 8, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  20. uluv2bthevictim

    How many politicians have read and understand the entire bill? Ahhh...none of them. NO ONE SHOULD BE VOTING ON SOMETHING THEY HAVE NOT READ and UNDERSTAND. Remember the rushed "Bail-out"! ...QUICK we have to spend 1.2 Trillion now before it is too late!

    This is just a way politicians manipulate the people. Then they can said later that they didn't know it would be so bad. Term limits for Congress is the first step to a solution. There will be an Independent Moderate Party that will come out of this mess and destroy the Dims and the Repubs.

    November 8, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  21. peter

    Health care costs may actually decrease! At present, highly paid doctors and lawyers determine whether the insured could have a pre-existing condition, so that the insured is not covered. If insurers must pay regardless of pre-existing conditions, a fitfh or sixth grader could check records whether the claimant is covered.

    A Google search will show that at present administrative costs account for about a third of US medical costs. That should decrease with competition between insurers for business.

    Of course, as more are covered, costs should rise.

    Then there could be additional cost savings, as at present many of the uncovered receive care in emergency wards.

    Who knows how things will balance out!

    November 8, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  22. JT the Show Me State College Freshman

    Representative Cao, you truely do have guts, and do not let anyone sway you to act otherwise. If you keep this up, if you decide to run in 2016, this moderate dem might campaign for you, who knows. I just wish that I had a represenative like him in my district of Cape County in Missouri, but my county is anything but a moderate republican county. Keep up the good work, and remember where you came from.

    November 8, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  23. Death Assurance Companies

    Wonderful news.Now all we need to hear is that Rush choked on his drugs or ODed.

    November 8, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  24. Ralph

    Dang some people really bought into the phrase OBAMACARE... I guess prtecting the nation is bad... just protect thoes who can afford healthcare... and medicade... millions are uninsured still. Universal covereage!WE ARE PAYING FOR IT ANY WAY!

    November 8, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  25. Darren Gaubert

    The repubs put ammenments up that all members of congress will have to be on the bill they pass. It was voted down by democrats.Good enough for for us serfs not royals.

    November 8, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
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