November 9th, 2009
08:25 AM ET
13 years ago

Update: Lone GOP vote came after call from President Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Rep. Cao brought his daughter to a town-hall event last month that President Obama held in New Orleans."]
Washington (CNN) - Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao was the only Republican to vote in favor of the Democratic health care bill that passed the House late Saturday, a vote that came after President Obama called to personally to ask for his support, Cao told CNN.

The president dialed the freshman congressman from Louisiana around noon on Saturday, hours before a vote on an amendment offered by anti-abortion Democrats that banned most abortion coverage from the public option and other insurance providers in the insurance "exchange" the legislation would create. That measure passed later in the evening.

Cao said he explained to the president he could not support the health care bill without the amendment, but said he would support the bill if the abortion measure passed. It was a sentiment he also expressed to House GOP leadership ahead of the vote, he said.

Earlier: I put needs of my district first, Cao says

The final vote came after several discussions about the bill with White House officials.

Cao, who hails from one of the most Democratic districts in the country, also asked the president for assurances that the administration would do more to help with ongoing disaster relief efforts in his New Orleans district, specifically by forgiving millions in disaster loans to the region.

By supporting the bill, Cao has opened himself up to criticism from other members of his party, but the Republican said his vote was the right decision for his constituents and "the right decision based on my conscience."

Last week, Republican National Committee Michael Steele warned GOP members of Congress that they will face tough consequences if they vote in favor of the health care bill.

"So candidates who live in moderate to slightly liberal districts have got to walk a little bit carefully here, because you do not want to put yourself in a position where you're crossing that line on conservative principles, fiscal principles, because we'll come after you," Steele told ABC News.

Cao chuckled when asked about the comment and said he "would like to remind" Steele that he and other Republican leaders trumpeted Cao's upset win over Democrat William Jefferson last December as a symbol of party diversity. Cao is the first Vietnamese-American member of Congress.

"He has the right to come after those members who do not conform to party lines, but I would hope that he would work with us in order to adjust to the needs of the district and to hold a seat that the Republican party would need," Cao told CNN.

Filed under: GOP • Health care • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. KB

    I going to have to refer to this guy as "Wow Cao". Shocked to say the least. He acted like a human being. WOW!

    November 8, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  2. Chuck Hendrix - Jasper Georgia

    Part of the problem facing this country are the total nut jobs that continually go off prattling nonsense about things they have no information on. The majority of these nuts merely repeat what they hear, not what they have checked for credability. How many of the fruit cakes parrotted the nonsense about the PricewatershouseCooper report costing every citizen $4000 if health care refirm is passed? A reprt that was proven to have been created and constructed for the sole purpose of misleading people. A report that was paid for to be prepared. They parrot the scare tactics that are presented to them by the same industry that is anti-reform suddenly. The same nonsense they repeat is nonsense that is being created by public relations firms for the insurance industry. Most could not make an informed decision because they are for the most part uninformed, selfish, repugnant bafoons. Most can't even see for the light they are being lead by the nose by the insurance industry.

    November 8, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  3. Texas Pioneer

    Rep Cao. If the Republican Party had more of you and Colin Powell and less Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin, I would again be a Republican.

    November 8, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  4. Brian - Seattle

    Republican's should take note that this is how you rebuild the GOP. I don't agree with him on abortion rights and some of his other positions, but he is representing the people in his district and can clearly see the hypocrisy of the GOP leadership. I wouldn't vote for him most likely, but I can respect him. That is what we need in this country now, not just more R's and D's that conform to party lines.

    If Congress had more people like him, I think it would have much more respect as an institution and we'd be better off as a nation.

    November 8, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  5. Jack Moss

    You're done Cao.

    November 8, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  6. Mark

    And see what happens in his next term along with Pelosi's congress in 2010!!

    Bankruptcy we can believe in!

    November 8, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. RO

    Bravo to the lone Republican who had GUTS to vote vs the rest of his party...He voted for what he thought was best for his constituents, rather than what his fellow members felt. Amen!

    November 8, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  8. Chipster

    I heard a reporter on the radio a couple of days ago, interviewing a group of people at The Villages in Florida. It's a huge seniors community and they were outraged at the very idea of a public healthcare program.

    Think about that. All these seniors, living on Social Security and enjoying the benefits of Medicare – both public programs – and they oppose a public healthcare option!

    No sense of irony? How many of them are willing to surrender their Medicare? The message I took from it was loud and clear. They said: I've got mine and don't give a rip about you!

    Wonder if they'd vote for the Republicans if the Republicans repeal THEIR public healthcare program!

    November 8, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  9. Tom

    What a novel concept – examining ones conscious and putting the needs of his constiuents first. Good for him. I would have liked so see our congress improve this bill and they still may, but the only other republican strategies I have heard on this was how to win the next election, not improve health care. When it came time to roll up the shirt sleeves, contribute, improve , hash out, and do some actual work for something that benefit us Americans – guess who was nowhere to be found?

    November 8, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  10. Shannon

    President Obama and the democratic party abandoned women to get one Republican vote. Shame on all of you!

    November 8, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  11. stevegee

    Better get your apple carts ready people, because when the liberal progressives get through with this country, we're all going to be unemployed and bankrupt...

    And that's exactly what Obama, Pelosi and Reid want. We'll have nowhere else to turn but Washington for a handout.

    November 8, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  12. worriedmom

    He sold his soul to the Devil! Made a deal which by now any idiot will realize that they will not keep their promise.
    Just remember what goes around, comes around. Wait until all you LIberal idiots are crying the blue because you thought you were getting something great only to be duped!!

    November 8, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  13. Simmy

    Why is it that true Republicans are called traitors? Gone are the days of guts and glory in the GOP......Palin by her lonesome brought them down, and she's laughing all the way to the bank....And we are stuck with seeing Hong Kong Sue's mug on CNN every other day.....
    She really has powerful negative energy......

    Blue Dogs, (Repubs in drag), please take notice of this classy, savvy man, especially Ms. Landrieu......A no vote from you is a no vote for you.....

    November 8, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  14. Jerry in NC

    What's with all of you and your paranoid, "doom and gloom" comments about President Obama? What on earth would he gain, by destroying the country that his two small daughters have to grow up in? What could he possibly gain, politically, by doing what he is attempting, to help ALL of america??? His legacy is already set in stone. You people need to stop believing all that garbage that Beck, Limbaugh and Hannity have been feeding you. You really need to take a good look in the mirror and ask yourselves, "Am I really that gullible and foolish?"

    November 8, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  15. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Congressman Cao, meet the Right-Wing Pundit Spin Machine – and you will come Monday when Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck hit the airwaves!

    November 8, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  16. Dennis

    This man will take so much abuse now from his own party, but I have to admire his values and principles for the American people. The last I knew we lived in the United States of America, not the United States of Greedy Corporate Wall Streeters.

    November 8, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  17. Jim

    I guess 1 Republican makes in bi partisan? Obama reaching across the aisle. It passed in the house but if any of it passes the Senate it won't look anything like this monstrosity of a bill. 1.2 trillion. Immediately taxes are raised yet nobody sees any change in healthcare.

    Take president Clintons words to heart. " It's the economy stupid!". Instead of more spending and taxing, you first fix the economy?

    November 8, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  18. bouliane

    coming from canada where we cater to the sick and the needy it is incredible to hear the dialogue that is going on in the us and terrifying to know that a powerful country such as it is harbours ignorant civilians and right-wing nuts. Despite what u guys think the whole world thinks of the u.s. as racist and stupid ie. rush limbaugh and glenn beck. the next thing you know people will be bringing their firearms to political rallies.... oh wait that happened already what a country i dont even feel like visiting anymore for its sheer ignorance.

    November 8, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  19. haren

    Some of the democrat who voted no are the one want single payer like Dennis Kusinich and I am sure they w ill come around for final vote.
    And commentator like Bill where were you guys when Bush was spending money like crazy for war and passed the medicare prescription plan without any worry about deficit.
    Now our God loving republican are worry because we are taking care of poor and middle class.

    November 8, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  20. beth

    An overwhelming majority of our country wanted this reform and voted Obama in by a landslide because they wanted this. THIS is what America wants. The odd comments here by people so angered by the fact that millions of Americans should be treated humanely and covered with health insurance blows the mind. How can people be so self-centered?

    November 8, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  21. John in Tampa

    Well done, Mr. Cao.

    November 8, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  22. Chipster

    Rep. Boehner had the audacity to say that he wouldn't increase the debt on his grandchildren! Where was this jerk when Bush, Inc. was doubling the debt for the past 8 years? Republicans dug a hole so deep it will take a long time to get out. Healthcare costs are crushing us. We must make a start at controlling the costs or else our military won't be able to afford to defend us and maintain a healthy military.

    November 8, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  23. Independent in NC

    No one has a "right" to quality healthcare regardless of ability to pay. That's like saying everyone has a right to a car, or a house, or a computer even if they can't afford it. Healthcare is a business providing goods and services – the federal government has no right to dictate that all Americans must purchase a specific good or service or face legal ramifications. Nor do they have the right to dictate to private corporations how they run their business, slimy as the corporations may be.

    As much as I think healthcare needs to be fixed, this bill isn't the way to do it. I hope the Senate kills it.

    November 8, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  24. republicans hate america

    thiose who are so against this bill will be the first in line to get their benefits. those are the same people that get on food stamps, welfare and any other "socialism" program that exists. just ask joe the plumber.

    November 8, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
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