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

Update: Lone GOP vote came after call from President Obama

Rep. Cao brought his daughter to a town-hall event last month that President Obama held in New Orleans.

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. GGG


    where is the transparency??? It was supposed to be posted 72 hours for the public to read.... What a disgrace !!!! The worst President EVER!!!!

    November 8, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. P. D.

    A Republican with a heart? A Republican who cares about the poor and sick? You better watch out Rep. Coa, The Sarah Palins and Michelle Bachmans of your Party will come after you for not being 'Pure' enough.

    November 8, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. Ken Parikh

    We need someone to look after the poor people who do not carry health insurance. In the name of politics we need to do something that we do not like. Think at the big picture, the sick and poor people will cost more to all of us without healthcare. Stop crying for your own agenda and think about USA.

    November 8, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. ephraim

    thank you president obama! i laugh every time i hear a conservative
    republican say liberals haven't read the bill, don't really understand
    what it will do to the economy, or are charmed by obama
    to the point of loss of consciousness. the thought that never occurs to them is all of us liberal elites are the ones who invent the MRI's to save your sorry hides, or designs the advanced weapons you use to fight your wars, runs the numbers on complex global economics you and your i finished high school goons can not even comprehend. you default to the idea of palin and her economics 101 speeches, or some tired grammar school axiom that you still apply to soothe yourself that you understand what is going on deeper than those of us are well read,
    educated (i.e. a ph.d), multilingual, well traveled and have experienced
    more than the dirt road to the mail box, or walmart on friday night. get over it, we are kicking ass and taking numbers as we try to pull us out
    of the crap hole bush and cheney left us in...

    November 8, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. ib

    Call me Obama and I will tell you where you can put this so called health care bill in a hurry. I don't buy that senior citizens won't be hurt by cuts in medicare. Oh I forgot they are savings you are going to put in medicare not cuts. Silly me for thinking you care about senior citizens.

    November 8, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  6. Perusing-through


    Cao's congressional district is significantly democratic, and his liberal constituents are leaning heavy in support of Democrat's healthcare reform policies.

    And more importantly, Cao did not win his congressional seat through overwhelming support (50% – 47%); Cao backed into the win when long-serving nine term Democratic Congressman William Jefferson was disgraced for allegedly taking bribes, hiding it in his freezer, and supposedly lying about the whole thing.

    November 8, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. Eddie

    I applaud Mr. Cao's courage. What he did could not have been an easy decision for a man in his position, and he may very well end up losing his job for it. Certainly he's going to face unrelenting, vile attacks from his own party for months to come, simply for choosing to put the needs of the American people over the wants of the GOP. For that, I feel sorry for him as well.

    November 8, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  8. SandyB

    All I can say, Thank you, Thank you, sir!! We need this in the worst way and I admire you for having the guts to do the right think. May your constituents reward you.

    November 8, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. Gary

    Even though I am lukewarm about this bill, I applaud Rep. Cao for voting his conscious...or, at least what is best for his district.

    As for all the Republicans that wanted this bill to fail merely because the Dems control the White House and Congress...or because you think insurance companies and drug companies should continue to fleece the public...too bad.

    As for all the Dems who think this thing is the greatest thing since sliced bread and canned beer, think again. It is going to cost a lot of money that we do not have, the RACIST Congressional Hispanic Caucus kept meaningful verification language out of the bill, and the Senate version...if it passes...will be radically different.

    November 8, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. Gary

    You made the right vote. I saw some extreemest say RINO. Who decides that Palin, Limbaugh, or is it attached to anyone willing to work with Democrats? The GOP is in sorry shape. They need a leader willing to work for the good of the American people. It's hard to be bipartison by yourself.

    November 8, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  11. Joe

    Did you notice Mr. Cao did not vote "yea" until it was clear the Democrats had enough to pass the legislation? If it was his vote that would decide whether or not health care passes the house, it's a given he would have went along party lines. By voting "yea" he made himself look favorable in his mostly Democratic district.

    November 8, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. Perusing-through

    Don't mean to take anything away from Cao, but he had no choice but to support the bill.

    Cao's constituents strongly support the Democrats Healthcare Reform bill, and if Cao expects to make a successful run in 2010, than he knows he must support the Democrats and his district on this critical matter.

    November 8, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. Doug

    It's nice to see that there is at least one Republican who can think for himself and who can shed the shackles of partisan politics to do what is right.

    November 8, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  14. Billy-Bob-Joe-Darrel-Darryl-12 pak-Capt. James T. Kirk in a pink tutu

    Well, we know that ONE rethuglican has a soul...not sure about the other 99.999999% (Actually, I AM sure...THEY DON'T!)

    November 8, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. Mike Vaughn

    So the GOP who have no plans except trying to win elections, all voted no but one meanwhile people are sick and dying with no healthcare... and they get theirs at taxpayers expenses.............Does accessory to murder mean anything???? Because when all you do is keep voting no on everything with no solution and people are dying,,,,,makes one think............I THE BLOOD NOT ON YOU HANDS!!!!

    November 8, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. Jim

    I am glad at least one Republican lawmaker had a conscience, cared about his constituents, and voted to support the President"s health care reform. I applaud Mr. Cao's courage and attribute his vote to his solid education in a Catholic seminary – as I too was educated. His vote represents the best of what Catholic politician should do.

    November 8, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. MJS

    1. BOTH the GOP and Dem's are in the pocket of special interest. Anyone who thinks different is naive.

    2. LARGE Bureaucracies fail, PERIOD. How will creating another save anyone money? This will start out wonderful but trust me, it will become overbearing in time.

    3. Anti-Gov. you bet, your individual freedoms are directly proportional to the size of government. If the debt doesn't kill us then all the do gooders who want to make the world a better place will regulate us to death. Utopia has always come at a step price to the individual.

    Would it be nice to fix all the insurance issues YES! We all agree on that but a new large bureaucracy isn't the answer.

    November 8, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  18. Charlotte

    Bravo, Representative Cao! You have shown morals, integrity, cohones and a real conscience and you are clearly looking out for the best interests of your constituents, to whom you owe far more allegiance than to a rigid partisan ideology. What a breath of fresh air. Don't be surprised if this is too much for the GOP to stomach, though, as they are far more about encouraging hate, greed and intolerance than about trying to get on with running he country (unless it's their way, of course.....otherwise it's the highway).

    November 8, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  19. Dean in PA

    Well, at least there are 2 Republicans (including Maine's Snowe) who haven't forgotten that there are thousands and thousands of people who are suffering without some kind of health care, and haven't also forgotten how badly broken the current state of health care is in this country. All the rest of the self-indulgent, hypocritical, holier-than-thou Republicans can go to hell.

    November 8, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |

    mr cao thanks God you are the only republican in dc, who did the right thing for the country.i hope the party of no will learn from you.

    November 8, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  21. MARK

    He is from an extremely liberal district.

    November 8, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  22. MARK

    He is from an extremely liberal district. How about mentioning all the democrats who voted NO. THere were many.

    November 8, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  23. RJ

    How could Cao call himself a Republican and vote for the worst bill in history!?!? What Republican votes for 572 billion in tax increases and a public option that will destroy the insurance market!? This bill sucks!

    November 8, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  24. Violet

    I guess stripping your elderly constituents of medical care....500-700 billion cut from Medicare during the timeframe when it will see an increase in enrollees by 30% and raising taxes 1.2 TRILLION which will cost of millions of jobs when we already have 10.2% unemployment (Thanks Maobama!) and implementing a new entitlement program whose actual cost is going to be 1.8-2.9 TRILLION when the country is heading to FISCAL RUIN is putting their needs first...oh yeh this guy is a real gem...right along with all the other Dem/Marxists in Congress and that jerk they refer to as President!

    November 8, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  25. KH

    I would love to see a list of the republicans running for re-election next year. I think their opposition to health reform should be highlighted. I would love to see political Ads attacking them for their NO vote.

    November 8, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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