November 9th, 2009
08:25 AM ET
12 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. cjl

    My only point of contention is that he 'bartered' a vote (do more to help my district). Can we please get politicians who vote purely on a singular issue and not trade favors (financial or otherwise).

    November 8, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  2. Matt

    Obama is a crook. He bribed Cao for his vote ("I'l forgive the loans for your vote"). Obama isn't for the right kind of change. He's for a fundimental change of our country.

    November 8, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. Operation Replacement

    Cao was elected defeating an indited Democrat in a district
    that is 60% Democrat. He obviously sold his vote in exchange
    for some White House "help" in getting through a tough election
    next year.

    November 8, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. Deb

    And here is your answer...

    ...............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.

    It's all a game to the people in DC. Votes can always be bought.

    November 8, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. Nichole, Tulsa, OK

    I never quite understood why Republicans hold the stance that they do on abortion. You claim to want less government in our lives, yet when it comes to a womans body, you want complete control over that. How does that make sense?

    Anyway, job well done there, Rep. Cao. You've pretty much tossed your whole political career out of the window, unfortunately, but at least you can rest peacfully at night knowing you did the right thing.

    November 8, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. Ambrose

    If you think that this healthcare bill helps anyone but the politicians and the corrupt special interests that own them, then you have no business opining on matters moral or otherwise.

    Christ may have said lots of things, but the only thing I know for certain is that he died and never came back, and that his name was used for the same kind of parlor-trick manipulation that all of you who have a vested interest in either party have fallen for.

    I have never registered to vote and this is a perfect example of why. Enjoy your MSBNC and Fox news. Idiots.

    November 8, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. Dave

    Cao has no choice, he represents a heavily democratic district and the democrats in his state are already targeting him for being GOPer and anti-abortion. if he voted no along with other republicans he'll get screwed by the Democrats.

    November 8, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. JSH

    Thanks??? to Mr. Cao and the other 219 Yea voters...

    Did you know that since Obama has become president, the govt has taken over 30% of all private sector business, examples being banks and GM for starters? With the passage of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid health care bill, govt will own 48% of private business. Add the Cap and Trade (Cap and Tax) legislation that Barbara Boxer is trying to push through while the rest of us are watching the health care debate, and the govt will run 56%!!!!

    Are we awake, Americans? We will no longer be a free nation. And he hasn't even gotten to education yet.

    To top it off, the US dollar has decreased 17% since Feb when the massive spending began. China owns more of our country than we Americans own.

    November 8, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. Carol - Stl MO

    Mr Cao,

    Thank You for having the courage, honor & intergrity to cast YOUR vote in the manner which best serves the people you represent ...rather than "tuning the voters out "like the rest of the Republican reps.DID !!

    November 8, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  10. Senior Lilarose in Oregon

    So, the "guys," even the president, are deciding what is best for us gals, right?

    It has always been that way. Back into the 1970's we women fought for our reproductive rights.

    We haven't gained that much since then.

    As far as I am concerned, Obama won't get my vote next round.

    November 8, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  11. Democrats for 2012

    Kudos to Congressman Cao! I am a professional who do have one of the best insurance coverage. A few times I was invited by my Vietnamese compatriots to events in Congressman Cao's honor but declined to go due to political differences (I'm a Democrat who do not believe in Republican "values", especially after having seen Senator McCain picked clueless and brainless Palin as his running mate). However, I have to say that I do admire and respect you for having taken this stand, i.e. support the health care bill. This proves that you do put the interest of your constituents ahead of party lines. I do hope that this will help pave the way to others, be it Democrats or Republicans (put constituents' interest ahead of own party affiliation). Thank you Congressman Cao!

    November 8, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. I am the flacid and powerless wizard of Rush

    How dare Rep. Cao stray from the RebirtherTea Party line.
    He must be purged immediately for the purity of the cause to oppose
    every single policy of our President.

    November 8, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. Jean 2

    Coa made a rare and courageous statement, he voted the needs of his constituency. To many of our elected officials seem to think only about relection and the lobbyist that contributed to their political campaigns.


    November 8, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. FJ

    Republicans are so blind talking about how can the Democrats add to our deficit? Did you Republicans forget who voted on these stupid wars during your beloved Bush era? That's what is draining our economy. Pick a better argument. Republicans these days are unbelievable.

    November 8, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  15. Sooner

    Thank you President Obama, Congressman Cao, and all Democrats who voted and passed this bill. Shame on all the Rebulicans for trying to turn their backs on the Americans that are dying each day for lack of healthcare. Your ideology of holier than thou, trickle down economics, has served it's usfulness. Time to change your ways or take a bow.

    November 8, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. ScottiesRule

    Bottom line...this supposed health care reform does nothing to reduce costs, which is what we have been told this effort was all about. The cost of private and corporate health insurance will continue to rise as we foot the bill for those on the public plan. All the Democrats have done is to set the stage for this country to go bankrupt...or to enter a period of hyper-inflation as we print money to pay for all of this "free" care. And I don't want to hear any whining when all of you see your taxes go up...because that's a given. The rich will find a way around it leaving the middle class and business owners to pick up the bill. Nice job Queen Pelosi.

    November 8, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. Bill

    "specifically by forgiving millions in disaster loans to the region.' – Oh ok, I see now. Obama bribed him. 🙂 I wonder what else he brided him with. It's funny – I'm an independant voter but it is so obvious there is so much curruption between both parties that it's sad. Everyone gets brided to vote for or against bills by the head of their parties... and sometimes by the other party.

    November 8, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. Reaganomics Leads To Feudalism

    To all of you Republicans out there who keep saying that the passage of healthcare reform will doom the Democrats and put the Republicans back in power.....

    Healthcare reform was one of the main reasons why Barack Obama was elected President....

    Keep dreaming are obviously out of touch with reality.

    November 8, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  19. dissapointed

    This guy is a joke. First, he changed the pronounciation of his last name (ask any Vietnamese how you pronounce 'Cao') then he sold his conscience for politics.

    November 8, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  20. Maria L. English

    Thanks for your courageous stand on the Health care Bill.As an uninsured Immigrant I know how hard and expensive it is to get medical care since I lost my job.

    November 8, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  21. josie

    Looks like Cao will need a job after the election next year. But at least he'll have free health care! He'll have that going for him.

    November 8, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. Clint

    Looks like Cao will need a job after the election next year. But at least he'll have free health care! He'll have that going for him.

    November 8, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  23. Charles

    I'm sure the nut case liberals will be out in force today. They haven't anything else to do but try and figure out how to get more free things from the people that actually earn a living in the country. But tell me this liberals, just what are you going to do when you run out of working people to tax for all your government goodiies you receive?

    November 8, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  24. Bond

    How about an article asking the 39 democrats who did not vote for the bill why they did so? Seems like their reasoning would be more insightful than the reasoning of this sole "Republican."

    November 8, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  25. Rob

    Congratulations to Rep. Cao for his position on this issue.
    He put his constituency before his party's views.
    I admire him very much for this stance.
    Doubtless he will suffer within his party.
    The GOP stand on health care reform has been very disturbing and entirely politically motivated.
    No consideration for the 40 million or more people without coverage.
    Extreme scare-mongering for political ends.
    Bad-mouthing the health care systems in other countries that have much better health statistics...
    This is political integrity ?

    November 8, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
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