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. Progressive

    A public servant who puts the needs of his constituents ahead of his party's desires. What a novelty !

    November 8, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  2. Eric of Reseda

    Representitive Cao represents a new generation of Republican leaders who are beginning to reject the Radical Fundamentalist Republicans that have made a play to take over the GOP. Steele is a buffoon, a tool, irrelevant. Cao did the right thing...for both America, adn his political career.

    November 8, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. kaylin

    I respect him for voting the desires of his constiuents, but I have a hard time believing this bill would have passed if some of the other members of congress had done the same.

    Cougar – I think it would be interesting if the people walked out on those services – along with their tax dollars as you suggested. I believe the private sector could do a reasonable job filling the gap. You should definitely push for that.

    GI Joe – you seem very misinformed. Name calling and attempts at class warfare have no place in reasonable discussion.

    November 8, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  4. ProudLib

    A Republican who votes with his constituents interests in mind rather than his party's or his own? Meet the newest addition to the hit list.

    November 8, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  5. Political Junkie

    Hurray for Re. Cao. It was dishonorable for the rest of the republicans to insist on the abortion amendment, and then once they got it, to not vote for the bill anyway.

    November 8, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. Joanna in PA

    Thank you congress for passing a bill in favor of the citizens of this country for a change. I can accept the abortion amendment with the exception for womens health, incest and rape. Abortion is still legal and it should stay that way. I do understand that some people do not want tax dollars to go to that. I guess that is what we call compromise. Well done!

    November 8, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  7. Cindy

    What a stupid comment to make about Dems slaughtering babies.
    Hello??? The Stupeck amendemant passed! 64 House Democrats voted to pass that amendement which took abortion out of the bill.
    So give me a break. Now if you Republicans would stop listening to your Messiah's Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh, The Conservative Messiah's, then you would see that abortion has been removed from the bill. What do you have to cry about now?? A Healthcare bill that is going to help people?

    November 8, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. Rick


    The Health Care Bill is another government bureacracy that will probably work about as well as all the others (Social Security, Freddie, Fanny, USPS, etc. etc. etc.). And believe the fantasy spins if you want but it WILL lead to higher taxes and increased deficits. No true conservative would vote for it.

    If Republicans aren't going to be conservatives then I'm not a Republican but you can bet your bottom dollar I am a conservative and a capitalist.

    All RINOs should be voted out, they are just democrats in disguise. No excuses.

    November 8, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  9. Nikkii

    To the GOP MORON who made a comment some months ago along the lines of " if we can kill this healthcare reform bill, we can finish this administration". Every negative/ nasty approach you and the "get-a-along gang" have taken has effectively blown up in your faces. I for one don't want you to stop, because this type of behavior and rhetoric is one the main reasons Obama won. Everytime you, Boehner, Limbaugh, and the like open your traps and something ugly comes out, which is quite often, you make him look like the Rock Star for a President that he is. Speaking of the "get-a-along gang", ever heard that old cliche' " if you can't beat 'em, join 'em".

    November 8, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  10. Terry from West Texas

    Pat F wrote: "Watch this guy's career – after his voters boot his rear out of office in 2010, he'll get a nice, cushy job – probably with EEOC.
    Filthy traitor – peddled your butt to the highest bidder, eh?"

    So, Pat, anyone who supports and votes for a health care bill is a filthy traitor and a prostitute who "peddles his butt to the highest bidder?"

    Have you ever considered the possibility that some of us believe that the American health care system could be improved? I do. Most Americans do, according to the polls.

    Have you considered the possibility that the continuous outsourcing of jobs, the declines in middle class salaries, the deterioration of employee benefits, the increase in unemployment, and the increase in medical costs might have made it difficult for some Americans to get the medical care their families need?

    I am lucky. My employer provides me with health insurance and pays a little over half of the premiums. My insurance company, by the way, tells me what doctor to go to and tells him what he can prescribe for me.

    In co-pays and premiums, my wife and I pay about $12,000 annually for medical care. If I lost my job, we would have considerable difficulty coming up with an extra grand a month for medical care.

    Who pays for your medical care, Pat? See if valium is convered and then go talk to your doctor.

    November 8, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. Please stopr censoring...thx S Callahan

    Cao did the right thing..he listened to the voice of God...and his constituents. There is a terrible misconception that says or believes people do not want health care offered for the masses under affordable coverage....people DO want that...they just don't want to bankrupt the next four generations. I personally feel, this vote honored God and he will put his hand and guidance on the next phase- getting rid of all that has evil intent -and make it a plan that everyone can accept.
    Well done!

    November 8, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  12. SAM OBI

    I spent over 8 hours watching the health care debate. It was democracy
    at its best. I was particularly impressed with the democrats rebuttals of
    the fallacies dished out by the GOP members. I almost cried when I saw
    a single vote from the GOP member in favor of the health care bill. I said I would like to know the lone ranger. Mr. Cao did the right thing. He voted his conscience and he knows that his district would benefit
    from the passage of the health care reform.

    If the GOP decides to punish Mr. Cao for his vote, democrats would do
    well to encourage him to cross over to the democratic party. After all,
    in 2010, the democrats would capture that district, because it is heavily
    populated by minorities. GOP was lucky to win the district because of
    Jefferson's scandals.

    What did the GOP and Bush do for New Orleans during and after
    Katrina Hurricane? Not much. It is on record that the Democrats
    passed Social Security, Medicare, Medicaide, and Veterans Bill. Again
    the GOP is on the wrong side of history as always on Health Care
    Reform. God bless America. It is the best country on this Earth.

    November 8, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  13. Christ

    It's amazing to me that some of you insight religious rage against a public option, Christ supposedly healed the sick, rich and poor alike, but you are so easily swayed by the deceit of the power elite and their corporate overseers. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle....whosoever takes care of the least of these....if your neighbor asks you for his coat, give him your pants as well....are you people servants of Christ, or the proponents of social inequality that will drag us all down in the end? Ahhh, self fulfilling prophecy sucks.

    November 8, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  14. Colonel Griggs

    With all of the accusations by republicans of Dems being Socialist, Nazi, etc. , it makes you wonder if the REAL nazi's of the 1940s fled to America, embedded themselves in various parts of the country, hijacked a political party and systems and planned a massive take over of our country, using teabaggers, birthers, neocons, and any other fringe
    group to carry out their deeds.

    This word nazi is really being thrown around loosly among the right
    wing. It makes you wonder.

    Way to go, Cao!

    November 8, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  15. Thanh Pham

    Rep. Cao brings a lot of pride to Vietnamese folks across the nation.

    November 8, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. Suneel

    Hey, look, this guy wasn't bribed!

    November 8, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  17. imnotamoron

    Why is CNN making a big deal about a republican voting for a bill that will help most Americans. Isn't this what they were elected for. no matter what party affiliation they belong too.Maybe CNN is forgetting what the forefathers wrote I think the media should give credits to a representative
    when he/she disregard his personal issue for the good of the country.
    And not be a cheerleader for both dueling sides. THIS IS AMERICA FOR CRAP SAKE NOT A ROMAN GLADIATOR CONTEST.

    November 8, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. Jane

    Sy goodby to your political "career", Sir, you have just voted yourself out of office.

    November 8, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  19. gg

    GOP is harmful to the middle class

    November 8, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  20. Joanna in PA

    What i find amusing is the people who say that the president should focus on putting people back to work. How do you propose he do that? Would that be socialism? Don't many of you hate that idea? I am a dem and not a fan of socialism myself. I do enjoy freedom! If the pres created jobs, they would be government jobs right? He can not create private jobs as far as i know. So, think about the things you say people. You can not have it both ways.
    This reform on Health care will save people money and create some piece of mind, which in turn, will start job growth and spending. Next up, climate change.... That will keep dollars in our country, keeping us safe and out of wars to protect oil, help our earth and create many many jobs that can not be out sourced. Or we can say forget it and let china take the lead even father and give more money to the Saudis.

    November 8, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Why are republicans afraid of democracy? If Cao's constituents think that his votes represent them then he has every right to vote for a bill, democrat or republican! Why is the RNC trying to supress its more moderate constituents?

    November 8, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. Where are the Heroes?

    I see Cao holding a little girl. His daughter I presume.
    I want to see Cao and his entire family put on the government
    health-crap program.
    Is there any clearer example of "Let them eat cake"?

    When 9/11 occured, there was an editorial photo of the
    Statue of Liberty on bended knee weeping.
    Well, her knee is bent, her head bowed and the tears are running again.

    The passage of a bill that hardly anyone in Congress has even read and which is heavily protested by citizens across the country is as close to treason as one can get.

    Make no mistake, this bill is nothing more than a power-play by the Obama administration. Chicago politics at their worst.

    Where are the heroes among us who will come to the aid of their country and squash this evil-in-play?

    November 8, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  23. ken wiiliams

    funny are really clueless racist really are. things are not going back to the jim crow days. there are too many minorites in this country other than black for that to happen. there is a revolution going on against all rich bigots, who seem to belong to the rep party. all this teabag crap, the birthers, the tenthers, the freedom work crap is nothing but a beard for the racist right wing in the rep party. lot's of folks are running scared in the right wing block. they are like a wounded animal, striking out at anything that moves. the republican party are the modern day nazi's. they seem intent on violence.

    November 8, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  24. Eric

    I've lived in S. LA for many years and have a socially conservative viewpoint. I believe free market thinkers would have abandoned N.O. years ago [except the Port], given the City is flood-prone and continues to sink below sea level [oil & gas & salt extraction from underground reservoirs], and withheld all $ to prop the City back up.

    Looking back, what happens when an area within our U.S. becomes disporportionately "affected" [i.e. hit by hurricane]? Do the residents just pack up and leave? Who represents those who stay behind? Because the free marketeers appear to take all steps to avoid these affects, they become the best creator of new Dem party votes in recent memory [like Rep. Chao]. Where in the U.S. are the Repubs fortifying their traditional States/Districts as effectively? Obama once again benefits from Bush W mistakes. Repubs better awaken soon or single party becomes status-quo.

    November 8, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  25. Joe Terrogano


    Why don't you do what your name implies.

    November 8, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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