November 8th, 2009
11:44 AM ET
11 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. Willa-PA

    Govt. of the people, for the people and by the people. The majority of the people voted for change and change is what they'll get. My representative voted against the bill and he will be voted out. No straight Dem ticket just to vote Democratic the next time I'll be voting. I'll pick and choose who stays in and who goes out. If I have to vote on a person like Cao (R) over a Dem rep, I will.

    November 8, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |


    Just how do you think they got that SUPER MAJORITY? It was the AMERICAN people who voted them in DOH!!!

    November 8, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  3. That's what scares us

    Given the lone Republican vote in its favor, Nancy Pelosi is hailing the passage of the health care reform bill in the House as a bipartisan effort.

    Given the 39 Democratic votes opposing the bill, I have to admit she's right.

    November 8, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  4. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    That's right, Cao. To heck with principles. To heck with doing the right, responsible thing. All that counts is GETTING RE-ELECTED!

    If you are going to be a pandering, self-serving puppet with absolutely no principles or morals, then why don't you just go ahead and join the democratic party where you won't stand out so much?

    November 8, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  5. johnmccain

    Nobody would cry about expenses for healthcare (for the health and potential of our nation) if we look at where else we overspend ourselves. The military expenses are far the biggest ration in the USA than any other countries with such size, population and overall potential. The next 10 nations can not even come close combined to the US when it comes how much of the GDP is spent on weaponry. The US is everywhere on the glove with installations for unneccessary reasons (EU, Japan, etc.) and bleeding money through corrupt contractors.
    If we just save a small fraction of that money and we still would be safe without question, we would not even talk about how we would finance our health with preventive methods and check ups.
    Fire corrupt contractors and officials (regardless of party affiliation) who enjoy the benefit of weak oversight.
    Also, fire superintendents in school districts who maintain lifestyle as kings (250-300k / year salary + expenses) when the majority of other industrial nations put us in the back burner of achieving in math and science in elementary and middle educatioin. They always say the they need to find professionals when competing with the professional work pool. It is just not true. In my humbled opinion, this area also needs to be reexamined.
    Tons of money is out there, to save that alone can easily pay for our nations better helath.

    November 8, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  6. Patriot

    Our elected officials are SUPPOSED to represent the people, not special interests like the insurance industry. Rep. Cao did his job.

    November 8, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  7. Scott

    Cao is looking like a real Republican and not one of them Limbaugh, or Sean Hannity followers like: Boehner, Steele, Alexander, Wilson and the majority of the acting Republican party now. When true Republicans gets back in office, I will start voting for them.

    November 8, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  8. anthony

    Well Linda, tell us what is in the bill then. Because, unless you had a chance to read it when the majority of congressman did not, I'm willing to bet that you don't either. Not only that, but less then 25% of American citizens actually end up paying taxes at the end of the year. That doesn't even include the approx. 12 million illegals that will eventually end up getting the actual tax payers to pay for there health care.

    And the shoe fitting. Come on, say something that isn't attacking. I know that I need healthcare reform, because I actually pay taxes, and I pay way too much for healthcare, and my wife even works for a Healthcare co. So is reform needed> YES. But regulation, is what will work, not joining the healthcare industry. The government can't run itself, now you want it to run our healthcare.

    November 8, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  9. Southern gal

    Very impressed by Cao- He may end up being a governor of Louisiana.

    Pres. Obama is right by saying that this vote will define the differences between the Dems and GOP for decades to come:

    – one party voted for providing healthcare to the people, while

    – the other voted to support the insurance corporations

    November 8, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  10. jjmpdx

    Cao's vote is exactly why the founding fathers setup a system of regionaly selected representatives. The bring the needs and wishes of their region to the national stage. Together the group is supposed to work to bring the best to all and strengthen the nation. I tend to vote democrat but I'm heartened by his vote – just as I am with the Republicans who voted no because that's what their region really want. Both parties over the past 15-20 years have gotten to a point of voting the party because it's the safe thing to do and the democrats are just as guilty as the republicans. Maybe it will be the death of Cao if the GOP backs an opponent because of this vote- but that is a failing of the system.

    November 8, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  11. Willa-PA

    """tom November 8th, 2009 10:50 am ET

    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 !"""

    And...that is exactily what the problem is here...who cares about the people, party first.

    November 8, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  12. Anonymous

    All of the above who proclaim the American people have now been violated should be forced to live like the people in Cao's district, and treated the way our own government treated those people during Katrina. Just for a few days.....

    November 8, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  13. Paul

    Now we see why he voted for this disaster of a bill. The white house promised him earmarks. This is the huge CHANGE that was promised? All I see is more of the same. Actually there has been some change, MORE spending of money that we don't have at an alarming rate!

    November 8, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  14. Johnny Five

    He's gone.

    I'd like him to explain what he likes about the bill. I'd also like to ask him what he remembers from reading 2000 pages.

    November 8, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  15. Hugo

    Cao, Mao, Cao, Mao?

    Wake up little rosebud, wake upppppppp.

    November 8, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  16. Rick

    It still hasn't passed yet.....There's alot of yelling yet to be done. We will see what the end result is after different amendments have been added.

    November 8, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  17. Bill

    Does insurance reform need to be done, in some form?

    Should we let insurance companies rule our health?

    What did, or even start to do, the GOP do while they were in charge?

    If my memory serves me right... the national debt doubled under the GOP conservative president.... and accomplished nothing for health reform.

    November 8, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  18. Eon Bear

    Out of all the Republican Representatives that believe in healthcare reform, Representative Cao was the only one to stand his ground. This is being a leader and couragous. Now, others may follow.

    November 8, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  19. Tanya

    Who cares what the American people need or want? Obviously not our own government. As a middle class American family who has lost everything and fighting to gain at least a little bit of a normal life back, I want to thank Washington for lieing to me and my family. I want to thank Washington for bailing out corperations who are still stealing every dime they can from my family. I want to thank Washington for raping my family of their future. I want to tell them that I love paying for their fancy dinners, nice vacations, and other "perks".

    I also want to thank them for trying to pass a bill that will garentee thay we will no longer be middle class but will be the working poor. Just proves that the only people that count in the US are the super rich or the really poor.

    Washington, I do have one question though.....if you couldnt manage medicare, socail security, and medcaid, what makes you think you can manage this either? Instead of going after the insurance companys you are just going after the citizens. Just like with the corperate bailouts. Guess if I had a couple million to bribe you people with then you would actually care what happens to my family!!!

    November 8, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  20. CG

    The Americans who voted these Democrats into office are going to get exactly what they deserve.

    Unfortunately, good, hard working Americans are going to be affected just as much if not more so.

    What's going to be there plan when the wealthiest Americans either choose to retire or take their business/home to another country? Absolutely every government program is a complete failure compared to the open market. Health Care could soon be added to that list. I hope those in the Senate have a better feel for what the majority of Americans want. I fear that they don't.

    November 8, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  21. annie s

    My thanks to this brave man for voting for the good of the people, not the good of his political party.

    November 8, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  22. Douglas Collins, Calgary, AB

    Hey SensibleFella, it seems you define "will of the people" as the voice of vocal, well-funded lobbies. Perhaps you should look back at the election results. Obama ran on a platform of health care reform and won the election, which seems to be a much better barometer of public opinion than a bunch of rich whiners who have no concern for those who cannot afford to see a doctor.

    November 8, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  23. Neal in Atlanta

    SNAPPA, I'm sure you'd like people to stop watching FOX news and tune in to the Communist News Network or the other liberal news networks to get the daily spin as given to them by the white house press secretary. 76% of Americans may be in FAVOR of health care reform but NOT at the TRILLION dollar plus pricetag and NOT if it includes taxpayer funded abortion and taxpayers paying for healthcare for illegal immigrants. If you want your hard earned dollars going to abortions and illegal immigrants that's your business but it's not my responsibility to fund healthcare for anyone but myself and my family. I already pay a sizeable portion of my income to social security, medicare, medicade, etc.

    Here's a novel idea....have all the illegals go home and have all the lazy, nonworking deadbeats get a freaking job and pay for their own health insurance....I will be glad to help the elderly and the truely disabled after that.

    November 8, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  24. Southern gal

    Jonny DC wrote the most racist thing:

    "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?"

    WOW. enough said. Some people just don't get it.

    November 8, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  25. I only help people who arlready can hep themselves: GOP

    Awww, he didn't go with the status quo of "do nothing".

    That's right, I said do nothing. Want examples.

    How much more was the Republican health care bill and how much less people did it cover?

    Where were republicans when debate for the bill was occurring? outside protesting while they are on the clock?

    A lot of ID10TS here love to point out the polls when they say Obama has lower approval ratings than his FIRST month as President, but they love to ignore the ones where most Americans want health care reform.

    It's the democrat's fault that they took over, if the republican's wanted to control where this went so bad, why didn't they start over eight years ago? Too busy blaming Iraq for 9/11?


    November 8, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
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