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. Rob

    At least there's ONE smart Republican in this country! 🙂

    November 8, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. Jason

    To Cao: Don't let Steele scare you with his bully talk. He's the most useless person in politics in charge of the most useless party in politics. You should come to the Dem side.

    November 8, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. Outsider

    Right vote. I won't second guess his motive. Changes are badly needed for the system.

    November 8, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. Panther


    Post office: I use UPS
    Police: Never called them
    Fire Dept: Never Called them
    Public School: Never let it get in the way of my education.
    University: Can't afford to go because of taxes/market price jacked up by government subsidies for the irresponsible.(When I've saved my tuition I'll go private so I get my money's worth.)
    Military: I've never opposed military spending, not that they can offer you as much protection as I have created for myself.
    Medicare: Employer pays my health insurance.
    Social Security: I'll never see a dime of it.
    Govt. Jobs: I couldn't keep a straight face or pretend to be useless long enough to make it past the interviews.
    Govt. Pensions: Govt can't even pay it's HUD handouts on time. I hope nobody has faith that these can be counted on in the future.(after healthcare reform pisses off the US debt buyers)

    OK Hypocrite: your turn.

    If you love the Govt so much, why don't you let them:
    -raise your kids
    -own your house
    -do your shopping
    -cut your hair
    -wipe your rear after you use the bathroom
    -collect your paycheck
    -pick which charities you donate to
    -choose who you marry
    -quit your job
    -go work for the post office/DMV

    Hyperbole as it was: I passed your hypocrisy test. How did you score?

    Here's a better question: Which congruency with idealogy is more pathetic? I vote the child that needs the self-sufficient to carry his load.

    Q:What does a democrat say when he looks at an infant in a stroller? A:"Where's mine?"

    November 8, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  5. T'SAH from Virginia

    How DARE Steele and his "Merry Men" and other sidekick REPUBLI-CAN'Ts threaten other members NOT to vote for the health care bill??? Who in the HELL he thinks he is??? YOU must go by your district and your constituents who put you in office and CAO did the right thing!!!

    The DUMB 39 Democrats who voted against the bill and at the same time, got in office because of their constituents are the ones who need to WORRY!!!

    November 8, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  6. Michael

    It's nice to see a man stand of for his constituents. New Orleans has been hit by so many problems. The republiCANTs won't get him voted out- his district is Democratic even more so than before.
    You baggers and birthers are out of time- out of touch- and out of your minds.

    November 8, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  7. Redleg

    Just remember how many Republicans in Congress are so anti-government they refused to take military pay.

    November 8, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  8. Michelle

    I AM GLAD THIS BILL PASSED. I have great health insurance right now. But what is I lost my job hence my insurance. Then where would I be. It is the TIMES, that people are losing their jobs. It is not the fault of our current administration, but it is what it is. The party of No, which I used to be a member of, needs to get over their sad and angry selves and do what is best for the country.

    November 8, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. otis

    This doesn't matter. If the Senate can't pass a bill and then BOTH bills get reconciled and voted on again, this would be purely symbolic. Given the vote was 5 votes in favor of passing in the House, past history tells me that unless reconciliation is used, 60 votes are unattainable.

    November 8, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  10. Lee in Oregon

    Well at least one Repub had the courage to vote his conscience and not follow the rest of the idiots who voted against the bill.

    Congratulations Congressman Cao. Be proud that you stood up and made the right decision.

    So Senate it's your turn to get the job DONE this year. No going home for the holidays until you're finished.

    Reform is a right not a privilege like the Repubs make it out to be with their no no no attitudes.

    November 8, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  11. Wanderer

    So far, Cao is the only Republican working for people first? I am sure his party is not happy about this because his party's principles, although family value is one of them and has been proven to be hypocritical and sugarcoating, are in reality to work for the party first, not people or country.

    November 8, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. Cnn please post my comment! 1 love!

    Republicans have rubbed the American public what happens in a few years when Americans with health problems last resort instead of filing for bankruptcy can seek shelter in the public option watch as the Few remaining Republicans are flushed out!

    November 8, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  13. Dave

    Cougar – nobody is saying the government shouldn't provide military, post office, police or fire, or that there shouldn't be people employed to conduct said services. Ditto for schools at the local or state level. But I fail to see the government's role in administering a health care plan, purchasing automobile manufacturers, or deciding which companies should and shouldn't fail. And BTW, I don't really expect to see a dime in social security by the time I retire. So, yes, I will be giving up that service.

    November 8, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  14. Sea.gem

    The protest is against the bill because it is unaffordable...even the Liberal Washington Post does not endorse it..what is funny is these young Obama supporters have no idea they just voted to have the government take money out of their pockets...not only do the younger generations have to pay into SS to replenish the coffers for those retiring but the cost burden of health insurance for the elderly was just shifted to them...suckers..should have stayed in school!!! the 'Cougar'...we already pay for thiose services...we don't want to pay for more, and I don't want to pay for your ignorance.

    This also is not her first time the president has bought votes...California, MIchigan, Illionois...2010 is almost here and we already saw a foreshadowing...why do you think the panic button was pushed to 'spend while you can'...a con-man was elected and his colors are showing.

    November 8, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  15. gg

    At least congressman Joe is honest and he is not playing politics as usual.

    November 8, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  16. Ken G

    Too bad a lot of other Repugs did not vote for the best interests of their constituents Nada are perfectly will to let their constituents die.

    November 8, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. Gerry

    So he voted for a bill that he didn't read. It's only 1.2 + trillion dollars. Here comes the takes.

    November 8, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. Robert

    I was extatic when this bill pass last night. It was a glimer of hope seeing atleast one republican for it. But it was hardly bipartison. I hope we have more then just 1 republican next time.

    November 8, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. Marc

    Most republicans must be retards or mentally deranged. If you don't follow their narrow Taliban like ideology, then you sold your self to the devil. The problem that they have and will never recover until they fix it is that they measure every thing as black or white and all is tinged with religious ideology. Well, I don't want their brand of religion to tinge my affairs. All that caca BELONGS IN CHURCH and should stay out of public life. I'm not against religions until they start to force themselves on my life. What I believe is my private affair and no one's business. I want republicans to stay out of my life's business. And they have the gall to say that government is trying to run people's lives and that this is a socialist government... yackity yack! You want to know what is really important? THE ECONOMY! Without that you can't even have religion to your flavor. Fools! Work for all of the people not just special interests. Thank God Obama is trying to fix the mess left by the conservative religious wackos and the republicans. Good job BO.

    November 8, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. jmenomeno

    Wow, a congressman who answers to his constituents. Congrats to Congressman Cao!

    November 8, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  21. I am pro choice and think this is a good idea too

    our tax dollars should not go for funding abortions

    November 8, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  22. Johnny DC

    @Cougar, who says: "To all of the right-wingers who are so anti-govt: If you benefit from the post office, police and fire depts, public schools and universities, the military, medicare, social security, or hold govt. jobs or receive govt. pensions: Start walking your talk, and give up all of these services now.

    Just another example of a Liberal nut taking a sentiment entirely out of context and trying to use it as propaganda, just like Obama does.

    Conservatives are not in favor of "no government". We aren't in favor of anarchy. We aren't in favor of prehistoric every-man-for-himself rules. The federal government should exist to provide such services as military and security, national postal services, etc.

    As for "police and fire", those are locally controlled, by State and municipalities, which is exactly where the power should reside, per all Conservative arguments.

    You have no idea what you are talking about. Pick up a book and put your keyboard down. DC Johnny 1 – Cougar Moron 0.

    November 8, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. mary

    What a flippin' crock of crap !!!
    Where are the jobs people. Where in the heck do these politicians think the money is going to come from? Oh, that's right, from a few rich people -- but only if they don't renounce their U. S. Citizenship first !!! And who might blame them? We allow any and all foreigners onto our soil, with all the rights of the citizens, except to pay taxes !!!

    Wake up America. Who will pay the bill? Without jobs people sit on their couches and pay nothing in but need everyone else to take care of them.

    Time to bring the jobs back to America!

    November 8, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. Patriot

    Michael Steele heads a party that consists mainly of white men. He should be blasting the Repubs for their lack of diversity, which is destroying the party.

    Instead he goes after Rep.Cao , who has the audacity to vote in the interests of his constituents. No wonder only 20% of Americans say they are Republicans.

    November 8, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  25. Angie in PA

    Wow a Republican putting the People first SHOCKING! They are not known for that great job CAO!! other Members of his party should take note and learn from him PEOPLE FIRST NOT PARTY!!!

    November 8, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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