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. The right wing is destroying the Repubs.

    Michael Steele is a right-wing puppet. I remember him as Lt. Governor here in Maryland - he and former Governor Erlich were ONE TERMERS for a good reason:

    Ttey ran as moderates but catered to the right-wing, which is exactly what he's doing now as the head of the RNC.

    With just 20% of Americans now identifying themselves as Repubs, I'm sure Steele will soon fade into oblivion where he and rest of the wing-nut fringe belongs.

    November 8, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  2. Carl

    I wish all politicians would put the people first before the party and their political career. Rep Cao is just doing what is best for the people who voted for him. The RNC did not put him in Washington; it was the people in his district. The Rep is nota sell out like some of my old Republicans claiming. The Republican party is the sell out to the Dixie Crats that have been a pain in the ars for the party. The Republicans need to remember what the party was all about...the Republic, not conservative trying to take our rights to be free to be as we wish. I don't like a party that is telling me how I should live my life with God...that is unamerican to force your ways on me.

    November 8, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. Dee

    Health care reform has been needed for decades for all kinds of reasons. Will this be perfect? No. But a beginning is necessary economically and for humane reasons. When the AMA and AARP announce they're behind it – you can be sure it'll pass.

    November 8, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. Mike

    The anti-abortion constraints are unconstitutional and will not survive its first legal case challenge. All the Reps/Sens know this, but they have to include the provision in the legislation to appease the evangelicals. They can make the Supreme Court look like the 'bad guys', since they aren't subject to re-election.

    The whole thing is a joke anyway, because the legislation is simply about creating a new market for the insurance industry rather than improving health care. There aren't enough GP physicians to cover the insured, let alone the uninsured, and this vacuous legislation will have no impact on that.

    November 8, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. Mother Theresa

    I'm glad the bill passed, but it doesn't go far enough. Profit should be removed altogether from healthcare. That would be the moral thing to do.

    November 8, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  6. Ian K.

    To everyone attacking this guy, saying he "sold his soul" or "peddled his butt to the highest bidder"; how many of those "nay" votes are receiving big checks from health insurance and pharmaceutical companies? Open your eyes.

    November 8, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  7. The power of the dems

    Remember in Louisiana and the county that Cao is from is pro-democrat. It was the right move and know that these "rebels" that oppose health care reform amount to puppets and tools of the insurance companies. Heck your not even being paid for your ranting.....then why do it. "Fools"

    November 8, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. Stu

    Cao, exactly what percent of your district lives off welfare? 80, 90, 100? Healthcare reform is needed, but not free healthcare funded by a shrinking base of taxpayers so that a growing base of welfare-addicted deadbeats continue to get a free ride.

    If you really want to make a difference, change the laws that prohibit healthcare providers who receive federal money from asking if a patient is here illegally. We should only provide emergency, stabilizing medical attention and then deport them. Then, end all punitive awards on civil lawsuits (healthcare and every other industry). Bloodsucking lawyers who get one-third of the award are the only ones who benefit.

    Then, perhaps you can explain to your district why 8 of the 10 most prescribed medications are made in factories in Puerto Rico. Then you can explain why we pay 10 or 20 times as much to fund free medicine for Africa.

    Then you can explain why we continue to erode social security, giving it to everyone but the worker who pays in. Why is an elderly immigrant who never paid in eligible for social security?

    Then you can explain why we continue to fund welfare babies, most of whom are just a paycheck for a deadbeat mother and who have no chance in life other than drifting into gangs and crime.

    If you really want to do something for your district, cut off the neo-slavery called welfare and put those people back to work in jobs vacated by the illegals you will deport. Let them be self-sufficient. Empower them to succeed instead of getting free checks every week.

    November 8, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. Clare Knight

    If GOP keeps at it, the Dems may get yet another Congressman with a "D" after his name instead of an "R," and his constituents, who are largely Democratic, won't even punish him for it. I suggest a trade: Stupak for Cao. I would also be amiable to Kucinich for Cao! And, while we are trading, how about Lieberman for Snow!

    November 8, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Working class people will be paying a lot more in taxes for this health bill.

    November 8, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  11. Eva from Tampa

    Rep Cao is a hero and a true statesman. The rest of his party could learn a lesson! And President Obama is a true leader–committed to his non partisan pledge to reach over the aisle. Rep Cao seems to be the only one listening. America doesn't deserve the ignorant and hateful rhetoric spewed by many of the Republicans–inciting hate and speaking of "revolution" (e.g. Rep Bachman). Thank you Rep Cao!

    November 8, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  12. joel palmer

    Good for Cao but shame on dems for buckling on funding abortion;

    If men could get pregnant; the gop would make abortion a sacrament

    November 8, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  13. Jay T.

    Love reading the posts of under-informed Repubs crying in their beers. This is how we felt when your boys cooked up a war and used tax dollars to fund it. Oh yeah, and thousands of Americans lost their lives with your tax-payer gouging. Hypocrites.

    November 8, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  14. Henry

    It's a shame more Republicans didn't vote for this plan. Most Republicans are Pro-Life. Health care saves lives, so universal health care is being Pro-Life. Republicans who vote against extending health care to those who can't now afford it are costing lives and being Anti-Life.

    November 8, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  15. Thomas

    Cao will be voted out anyway in 2010, he isn't black.....

    He tried to pander to the free cheese crowd, but it won't matter he is a goner..

    November 8, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. Roger in Minnesota

    This man has guts, integrity and class- unlike the rest of his party. Thank you Mr. Cao!

    November 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  17. joel palmer

    Louisiana is such a tard state they deserve the lame ass economy they have;

    Keep living under sea level and see how that works for ya

    November 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. bob

    Majority rules, you had 6-8 years of GOP "leadership", now we'll try it our way. You said 'sour grapes to us' when we didn't get our way with Bush, but wow, the GOP/tea party reaction is priceless. It doesn't feel so good when the shoe's on the other foot, does it?

    By the way, the original tea party protested taxation without representation. You have representation, it's just that the majority of the people's representatives disagree with your representatives. Boo hoo!

    November 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  19. Duc Luu

    What Rep. Cao (R) did was a heroic. Against all odd, he did his best judgement to fulfill and to respond to his district constituents. That is exactly what politicians are supposed to be elected to do for their people, not for their gimmick fame & seats. Pathetics are a bunch of narrow-minded Republicans (and conservative Dems-alike) who were afraid to vote YES as much as they were afraid to loose their seats on the next upcoming election. Trust me, Rep. Cao will retain his seat not because he was afraid of Mr. Steele's warning but because he knows, understands, and responds to the need of his very own consituents. Thumb up, Rep. Cao.

    November 8, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. celtlund

    John, don't bet on that. He is in just as much trouble as most of the Demorats in the House. We, our kids, and our grandkids can not afford this boondockle.

    November 8, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. Cougar

    Michael Steele is irrelevant. I remember him as Lt. Governor here in Maryland, and he and Gov. Erlich were ONE-TERMERS for a reason:

    They ran as moderates but catered to the right-wing, which is exactly what Steele is doing now as head of the RNC.

    With just 20% of Americans now calling themselves Republicans, it won't be long before Steele and his fellow wing-nuts fade into oblivion, which is where they belong.

    November 8, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. Nobama

    I am one that benefits from public services....but I also pay a lot of taxes. Why can't we learn from the painful lesson that europe already learned? They are moving away from socialism, while we are headed right for it. We always hear about how much money the insurance companies and how they're evil, why don't we ever hear complaints about how much trial lawyers make? Take a guess, they're in washington. If you think lawyers and politicians can solve our problem better than american entreprenuer, then you're just as blind as washington. People need to WORK, not sit there with the hands out asking for freebie's.

    November 8, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  23. Oregon

    Rep. Cao sets a stinging example for Republicans who care more about furthering their selfish self-serving party-line agendas than as Finch says "the necessity of statemanship this country so sorely needs from both its parties." Congratulations Rep. Cao for standing up to the thugs who want nothing more than to hurt this country under the guise of the Republican Party.

    November 8, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  24. mary

    The article states: "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." I am left wondering: How is it legal to buy votes with money? We thought lobbyists were a problem, get a load of this!

    November 8, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  25. beauderek

    So basically Obama bought Cao's vote by promising to "forgive" the disaster loans given to Louisiana. Nice. He fits right in with all of the other crooks.

    GI Joe, you're dillusional. I lost my home on the MS Gulf Coast, which actually was hit by the hurricane, not flooded when Lake Ponchartrain breached the levees and flooded New Orleans, which is 65 miles INLAND from the Gulf of Mexico. The only freebies I heard about following any hurricane were the debit cards they gave to people from New Orleans who ran right out and bought new designer purses and TVs instead of using it to feed their families and find suitable housing. It's four years since the hurricane and there are still people from New Orleans living in housing being paid for by the federal government. I have no sympathy and the feeling sorry for yourself act is really, really old and tired.

    Tammy, who do you think is going to pay for the coverage for the 40 million illegals and uninsured in this country? Money doesn't grow on trees. It has to come from somewhere. This government can't keep Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps, Unemployment, the Post Office, the VA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac solvent just to name a few. Now they think they can squeeze the working class to pay for what amounts to one-sixth of the economy of this country (which is already heavily mortgaged to China)? Only in lala land is this possible. Anytime the government releases cost projections for when they decide to step in and "fix" something in this country, their figures come up tens if not hundreds and even thousands of times short. The cost of $1.5 trillion for this plan is AFTER they make everyone pay for their own coverage (and the CBO has projected that the lowest cost non-group family coverage insurance under Pelosi's bill will cost $15,000 - the LOWEST cost plan in 2016 - so much for "affordable" health care) and tax the pharmaceutical companies, the medical supply companies, the businesses, small and large and tax the American consumer for years prior to the plan even being put into action.

    This bil is not about making healthcare affordable or fixing the problems with our healthcare system, just like the stimulus was not about creating jobs but making paybacks for favors owed. Anyone who thinks otherwise is blind and needs to do some research.

    November 8, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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