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. Cnn please post my comment! 1 love!

    Not a single plane has come smashing into a US building so far Obama gets many kudos from me....now a public option....is it me or is Obama already a better President than Bush would have ever been even if he had 16 yrs to run the country? hmmmm

    November 8, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  2. Patrick

    Sorry, but all I see here is racist, ignorant, uneducated remarks. For one, Obama has nothing to do with this bill legally. It was suggested by a congressman, passed by congress, and Obama hasn't touched it. Only reason Cao voted for this bill was because of his strong feelings about abortion which is completely irrelevant to this issue.

    November 8, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  3. South Bay

    Pat F,
    He elects to serve his people and it's ethically wrong because GOP's principle is party first and Americans last. Calling him traitor reminds me that's how communists do when you go against your party. What do you label when some Dems voted against their party?

    November 8, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. Bill

    Of coarse he had to vote for it. He needs the ACORN vote..

    November 8, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. Graig from CT

    Congressmen Cao voted for his district and not his party, he did his job, he should get a medal. It is hard to believe there wasnt one other GOP congressmen with enough "balls" to do the same. Are you all to scared to stand up to your party?

    November 8, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. mary

    A bigger question. What did Obama truly say? Did he admit that he is our Commander in Chief and the incident in Texas was due to policy failure on his part? That he should have listened to his serviceman who said he did not want to be sent to IRAQ or Afganistan to fight against his people, after he'd been through so much at Walter Reed caring for injured soldiers? Policy people, policy, it's time our President listens to the 'heart beat' of our sevice members, they are multi-national and religious diverse, if they have a problem, we should be listening and allowing for a change in plans.

    November 8, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. lone wolf

    Will the real sniffit please come out....I can't take this fake one....the difference...high school diploma and a few degrees

    November 8, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. DB

    It would be interesting to know the number of people sending in virulent remarks about the President and Congressional Democrats who have supported legitimate health care reform who will receive increased health benefits from this bill. They probably will never say they were wrong but as a health care worker for the last 39 years, I can tell you it is a long time coming. These writers talk of supporting Congressmen and Senators being in someone's back pockets. I can tell you this, under the system we have now, Insurers, health care equipment suppliers, pharmaceutical companies, HMO executives and many others have had congressmen in their back pockets for many many years. If our current system is so great, why are are there millions of worthy citizens not covered or unable to obtain or afford coverage? Do you not realize that for all of these oersins who have no insurance coverage, when they get so sick that they have no choice but to go to a general hospital run by the city or county they live in, we are paying for their care which is usually much higher because they waited until they are deathly ill? By requiring everyone to obtain coverage, the pool of financial resources grows and overall costs are shared by more premium payers. Without the government option, private insurers are licking their chops at all the extra money coming to them. Do you really think large private companies are going to lower premiums because they love us? They use every excuse to justify the rares they charge now. This would not change without a low cost public option.

    November 8, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  9. David Campbell

    Well done Representative Cao! THANK YOU, Sir, for putting the needs of the people over narrow ideology and Big Money interests. The Republican Party will need many more individuals like yourself if it is ever going to redeem itself and appeal to a wider audience.

    November 8, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. Love Thy Neighbor

    Why should Cao follow the "make no mistake" forum? He is DOING what the voters that placed him into office is supposed to do. The best thing for America is for the other so called congressmen/women to follow suit. So what if the Republicans threaten to do something? Cao is only doing what he feels right for the American people. Freedom of representation and not looking out for himself like alot of the others in there. Did they not learn in 2009? I think that Americans are far better off with President Obama than with the previous "leader". Where were the tea-baggers when the past administration was sending/spending OUR money on "their" agenda creating a totally different and "HUGE" deficit that did not benefit anyone but themselves?! Play nice now!

    November 8, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Aviate

    What a radical concept, a GOPer who values the needs and desires of his constituents over the fatwa issued by his party's leaders! Boehner's & Cantor's heads must have exploded! Reason and responsibility have no place in today's GOP–especially not when cheap, theatrical points are there to be scored.

    Not to worry, I'm sure Palin, Beck & the Club for Growth are lining up a primary challenger who will slavishly follow party orthodoxy. It worked so well for them in NY-23 after all...

    November 8, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  12. Texico

    President Obama just secured his 2012 election with one master stroke! He will be remembered with the greats like Wilson, FDR, Truman and Kennedy!

    November 8, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. William H Hall

    Congressman Cao represented the needs of the people, not the insurance companies. More power to you sir!

    November 8, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. kevin

    god bless america. where we let such nim rod in. Wow i think the senators and congressmen and women or getting sooooooooo much smarter. nottttttttttttttttt.thank you washington, thank you very very much, took over 200 years to build this country to be so great, and your destroying it over just what 1 to years. Your so out of touch. So so out of touch. What i want to know is who is paying you off, what organizations? Who is behind this? You have not the minds to destroy the country all by yourselves

    November 8, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  15. whitefences

    This is a side comment....but it has been eating me for 12 years now. My family lost everything, and I mean everything including our farmstead, and farm lifestyle to the Great Flood of /97 in Grand Forks, ND. FEMA gave no help. None. Their beuracracy of forms were hundreds of pages long before you could even file a claim. We people of North Dakota and Minnesota pulled up our own boot straps and we are all still strapped with thousands of dollars of debt that we each had to take out to rebuild our lives, our homes, our community. No one has ever offered one iota of help after the Flood. Why then, is New Orleans' still asking for aid....hey, if that's the way it's going to be, I have a house debt of $129,000 that I could use a litle help with......

    November 8, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. joetheinformed

    Wow, a republican with a conscience. Rare.

    November 8, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  17. Frozone

    If more Republicans voted with the wants of their districts, the GOP might just become a viable party once more. Thank God they're too brainwashed by Boss Limbaugh and Facebook blogger Sarah Palin to learn from from Congressman Cao's example.

    November 8, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    All the criticism against Cao – who put the needs of his district first, which is what Congress members are supposed to do – just shows how un-inclusive and intolerant the GOP has become.

    The GOP's tent is awfully small, rigid and restrictive – and its members are treated like little children: "If you don't do exactly as we say, you'll be punished!"

    Why anyone would want to be a member of such a dysfunctional group of ignoramuses, is beyond me!

    November 8, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  19. Otto

    Gee...thanks Your vote was for the people you serve and that's better than gold.

    November 8, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  20. Joe Terrogano

    As a resident of Louisiana, where many uninsured citizens live, I applaud congressman Cao. Steele, the penultimate Republican nerd, can suck it up. New Orleans voters are not going to do anything but pat Cao on the back for this. Mary Landrieu on the other hand has sided with the banks and corporations and needs to attend to her votes on this issue or just go over to the Republican party.

    November 8, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  21. Bj

    When the impact of this bill is really seen a few years down the road, the legacy of those that supported it will forever cast in sh#t.

    November 8, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  22. clark

    I like the way Finch put it: Rep. Cao put his constituents above 'Party loyalty' and he has his priorities right. Now I just wish the President and Congress had their priorities straight because THEY SHOULD HAVE MADE SURE THEY HAD THE JOB MARKET FIXED BEFORE SPENDING ALL THEIR TIME AND POLITICAL CAPITAL ON HEALTH CARE. Not that health care reform isn't important, but it should have been more important to make sure that they were putting Americans back to work, and no, the Economic Recovery Act by itself isn't going to do it, which the latest unemployment figures make too obvious. Pass tax breaks for hiring the unemployed, for God's sake! That should have been an obvious fix that they could have gotten support for easily. You put more Americans back to work, THEN see how much support you'd have politically to reform health care. They put the cart before the horse. It's as simple as that. STUPID.

    November 8, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  23. kevin

    GO Go go, keep it going Dems, keep it going, keep slaughtering the babies. more and more money to slaughter the baby. And in cali i ve heard this morning that the pets will also be slaughtered more and more now. how many innocents since 1973 now? 50 million innocent babies killed? thank you washington!!!! thank you!! We don't need these babies anyways, do we? Keep the population control up, and now this new bill will do even more for this, and heck now many more older useless people will be allowed to help die, Run them all out of the world, who needs them anyways, keep it up washington, you clueless wonders

    November 8, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    People are comparing Cao's vote with "selling is soul to the devil".

    The religious fanatics who have taken over the GOP are descendant from the strain of "Christians" who gave us the Inquisition – and are cousins to all intolerant, hateful, destructive religious forces throughout history.

    No wonder people are leaving the GOP in droves!

    November 8, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  25. S M R

    And who said the GOP is the party of NO? LOL

    November 8, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
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