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. cora

    Thank – you Mr Cao for standing up for the people and not for Party.

    November 8, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  2. Heather

    I left the Republican party because it is NOT a Christian party. (In fact, there is not a "Christian party." All parties are political parties, period.) Any serious reading of the Christian Scriptures will show you that taking care of our fellow man, especially the poor, sick, and needy, is one of the major tenets of Christianity. Ambition, wealth, and power are not. Keeping everything you've earned for yourself is not. Making profit from healing people is not. So far as I can tell, Rep. Cao is the only Republican Congressman doing anything remotely Christian.

    November 8, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. Paul H

    Ken in NC your comment: "Republicans do not like individual thinkers"
    Is how Democrats are looked at by Conservatives. Think about what you are saying. Big government, higher taxes! Government take over of banks, auto industries, and environmentally hijacking our energy independence. With things like the fairness doctrine, cap and trade, and paying for abortion with our taxes through this health care bill. Who if anyone cares about the individual thinker anymore?

    November 8, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  4. stevetall

    A thinking man's Republican? I salute you, sir!

    November 8, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  5. Rick in AZ

    Good on ya Joe for voting for the people. Johnny in DC seems to believe people who are poor or out of work are in their situations because of laziness. What a moron!

    November 8, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  6. Conrad Sundol

    Ever notice how often the Repubs resort to sloganeering and name calling? Its the behavior of thugs and desperate people willing to do anything to hold onto their ill begotten money and power. How shameless these people are!

    November 8, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  7. Tom

    Gee at least one Republican listened to the people he represents! When will the rest of them figure it out?

    November 8, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  8. In the West

    TBT wrote: "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?"

    You must have slept through school. In representing the needs of his constituents, instead of the overly-politicized GOP, he WAS following the principles and morals required of him as a representative to the House.

    November 8, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  9. mike.texas

    What do you call a party that claims to be pro-life yet is for War that has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent woman and children yet they are against saving american lives with healthcare.

    November 8, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. David

    For those of you that think the signing of this health bill is good, that you feel it is a right of the people, and that you don't mind spending a few extra dollars to insure everyone has health insurance, it is apparent you didn't read the bill.

    This bill is scary. The government will not be involved. The new health commissioner (aka CZAR) will have full control and no one else.

    People, please, before you post comments, know what you are talking about. Lastly, please do yourself a favor and even if you don't discuss these things, please ask yourself, "How are we going to pay for these things?"

    While I believe some type of health insurance change is needed, this bill that has passed is not the solution, it is a disaster. The cost is unimaginable and higher taxes are on their way, even the democrats have admitted to that.

    November 8, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  11. I only help people who arlready can hep themselves: GOP

    Neal in Atlanta,

    Ever read what it says below the Statue of Liberty?

    Here's a better question: what Native American tribe do you hail from since your not an immigrant? Your an ignorant, that we already know 🙂

    November 8, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  12. Chas

    Finally, a Republican who realizes the that the American people and not the do-nothing, say nothing antics of the Republican party are first are foremost. Congratulations!

    Is this bill perfect? No but it is a smart start of something long overdue and much needed.

    Thanks again from a grateful SENIOR.

    November 8, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  13. Darren Gaubert

    The repubs put amendments 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 royalty.

    November 8, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  14. Greg

    It amazes me how people on the right are willing to spend billions after billions in Iraq, never ever question the Pentagon budget, the CIA budget, the FBI budget, totally trusting that power agencies can really manage money, and yet be upset at 90 billion dollars we would have to spend here on Americans, on their health care. We just signed off on 680 BILLION budget for Pentagon, that does not even include Iraq and Afghanistan, and yet all GOP and right-wing lunatics can talk about is 90 billion we will spent on health care. Amazing.

    November 8, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  15. Chris

    Of course this will be his only term. He will be slaughtered in the next election. If he is going to vote like a socialist, why not vote for the Democrat?

    Raising taxes on small business owners, over $500B during a recession?!? Put even more mandates and regulation on small business when you are trying desperately to create job growth. Make employing people even more expensive in a global economy?


    Just like the stimulus was a joke (yeah, unemployment wouldn't go over 8% if the socialists get to spend nearly a trillion borrowed dollars) this is an even bigger joke.

    Government will control healthcare costs? Do they think we are all stupid? When has government controlled the cost of anything? The government is the poster child for fraud, waste and incompetence.

    Medicare – bankrupt
    So-So Security-bankrupt
    Treasury – insolvent if they didn't run the printing presses at full tilt

    If these medicare cuts are so easy, why not implement them first and have the savings be a trigger permitting all this other nonsense. Easy, because Nobama, Pelosi and Reed know the savings will never happen, it's all lies.

    Rinos think the way to win elections is to be socialists. They spent like drunken sailors 2000-2006 and they got hammered for it. Now the Pelosi Politburo increases deficit spending 4X and these Rinos go along with them.

    Make no mistake. This is 1993 all over again. Socialists think that a vote against Republican spending in 2006 was a vote for socialist spending. 2010 will be 1994. The socialists will lose control of Congress for another 10 years and Nobama will run to the center just like Clinton did. Then fiscal sanity will return and hopefully we can roll back this economic devastation Pelosi, Reed and The One have brought upon us which is making the recession last way longer than it normally would have.

    The hippies better enjoy their power while it lasts 'cause it won't last long.

    November 8, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  16. Annie, Atlanta

    Good on Rep. Cao. My Representative, John Linder, voted no. I guess he thinks he's the only one entitled to government run health care, as well as that pesky government salary. Why are these guys in government to begin with if they are so anti-government, at least when it's convenient? Good grief, they even had an anti-government rally on the steps of the capitol the other day. I'm confused. There must be a big payoff somewhere in there.

    November 8, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  17. Bill

    You are a true patriot, Rep. Cao.

    November 8, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  18. Roy Russell Jr

    Kudos to Mr. Cao!

    November 8, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  19. Tracy-Oakley

    At least Coa is being honest when he says this is the best thing for his constiguents – not for his party..Good for him!!

    November 8, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  20. I only help people who arlready can hep themselves: GOP

    At least the Democrats are spending money on health care reform. I'm sorry but didn't the national deficit double under GOP rule and what did we get out of it: A war in Iraq!

    Let's see what party cares about Americans more: The one that put our soldiers in a costly war that had nothing to do with 9/11 or the one that wants all Americans to have health insurance.?

    November 8, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  21. Fitz in Texas

    Southern gal November 8th, 2009 10:58 am ET

    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.
    Please do tell.....what is so "racist" about the comment?

    November 8, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  22. Gar

    The government can't run Katrina relief, Cash for Clunkers or the SEC well but we think they can run healthcare? Really? Public Option? Really? You think that your district needs more taxes and more entitlement programs? Really? There are a lot of people not getting my vote next election. Fortunately for this guy I don't live in his district. Did he even read the bill that he voted on? Doubt it. This is one independent voter who voted for too many Democrats last election and won't make that mistake next time!

    November 8, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  23. Annie, Atlanta

    tata mcgee – sorry sweetie, Obama, Pelosi, and the Democratic party aren't the ones raping us. It's the insurance companies. You must either have government run Medicare, Medicaid, or insurance through your employer. Try to survive without those.

    November 8, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  24. Neal in Atlanta

    Hey SNAPPA. My brother was one of the Americans you speak of who voted Obama into office. Now he is one of those thousands who are having a MAJOR case of voters remorse. He is regretting the day he voted for that socialist along with many, many others. They all bought into the CHANGE. Now they are seeing how that CHANGE is working out.....NOT TOO GOOOOOOOD.

    You know I remember my history going back to the late 1930's and early 1940's. There was a country in Europe which was hit harder than any other by the great depression. This country was then resurrected by a charismatic leader who was the head of a "progressive party" and a "coalition" government. This charasmatic leader was an impressive orator who rallied the masses and was elected Chancelor. The country – Germany. The party – Nazi .The leader – Adolph HItler. And see where CHANGE got them and the rest of the world. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    November 8, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  25. I am American

    Good for him. His other GOP fellows should be ashamed. They do not do what is best for their people that they represent. I hope they all lose their health care and see how they like it.

    November 8, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
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