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. Pat F

    South Bay: Nice try at spinning, but they got to this guy – he was bought and paid for, Chicago style!

    When you run for election on one platform and vote based on your personal financial interests after you get elected, that is not called "putting country first" – that is called being a lying sack of garbage, and his voters will dump his sorry butt in 2010 for NOT voting the way he campaigned that he would vote.

    Save the commie/McCartyism vitriol for another day, South Bay – that dog ain't hunting today!

    November 8, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  2. Annie, Atlanta

    Kevin, you do realize that the right to an abortion was passed by the Supreme Court along about 1973, don't you, and that it involved privacy issues? I don't know what the makeup of the court was back then, but I do know Nixon was President, and I do know every Republican President since then has not overturned the decision. It was not a law passed by a Democratic majority in congress. And, honestly, what right do you think you have to tell a woman who has to make a horrible decision what she can or cannot do with her body. Do we women tell you men what you can do with yours? Seriously?

    November 8, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. Karol

    It's interesting that the people who are writing on this post and are so angry toward President Obama are the people who can't spell words correctly or formulate a thought that makes any sense.

    To you, I would quit listening to Rush Limbaugh and go out and get an education.

    This is the start. It may not be exactly what I wanted personally, but it's a beginning. Every single person in this country has the right to quality health care regardless of ability to pay. I applaud President Obama for his tenacity and Rep. Cao for standing up to his party in order to do the right thing. Now lets build on this and get a real health care plan that works.

    November 8, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  4. kevin

    cry about? are you kidding? yes, reagan, bush 1 and 2 etc passed bills and spent money like there was no tomorrow. but hello cindy, at least there was money there to be spent. were soon to be broke, medicare, and medicaid, etc are almost broke, social security is broke. Obama goes on with Bush's trillion or 2 trillion dollar stupid bailout, another stimus bill at what, 800 billion, this health will cost another trillion or 2 or 3. Not everyone deserves everything. God there are some people who are so greedy. And you don't get it either. This is for illigals, those who don't deserve it, hello 5000 buck fine if you don t get a plan for yourself. Hard working, big money making people are going to be screwed. America is on its way to the grave. Bet on that. this was the agenda since Reagan. Owwwww yeah yeah in the back rooms of washington, thinking, pondering, plotting, yessss we can make them all depend solely on us. Screw Beck, Limbaugh etc, fat stupid wind bags the lot of them, all of them. the american people will suffer for all this nonsense.

    November 8, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  5. Jenn, Philadelphia

    One Republican vote does not make this a bipartisan bill, just another example of how Obama lied about working together for the country. The good thing is that this bill will die the death it deserves in the Senate and maybe they can start work on a bill that is beneficial. What happened to the President's promise of a bill under a trillion dollars? Oh, right, it went the way of all his promises.

    November 8, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. Peter E

    Neocons are incredibly hypocritic on this issue. They say that the abortion provision is the most important issue about health care, but they still threaten to oust anyone who dares vote for the health care bill, even if it specifies the ban of federal dollars for abortions. Let's face it, they'd vote against the bill even if Obama let republicans write it!

    Oh, and btw, most insurance companies cover abortions, so chances are your current private insurance provider is already using your money to pay for somebody else's abortions. And yet neocons NOT ONCE criticized that! Hypocrisy!

    November 8, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. kaylin

    Marc – you completely discredit your argument with all your name calling. Why is it that the left chooses bitterness and name calling over debating the issues. Is it because they do not have any arguments with any merit? Just curious.

    November 8, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. I Can See Argentina from my Front Porch

    Personally, I would rather see government funding for BIRTH CONTROL and better reproductive education in this country.
    Just my opinion, of course.
    But kudos to Mr. Cao for putting the people of LA first, and not the party. Maybe the Repub leadership should consider making this gentleman their new "superstar".

    November 8, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |

    Oh, by the way, the abortion language will be stripped out if the Senate passes their version and the two version of the bill need to be amended - so you can be naive or stupid - your choice.

    November 8, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. mom in MN

    Wonder what he was promised by the Chosen One?

    November 8, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  11. teacheng

    Good comment from Cougar above about post office, police and fire depts, public schools and universities, the military, medicare, social security, govt. jobs and govt. pensions. I'm not sure that people who are protesting this health care reform even know what they are talking about! They just hate Obama and "the libs" and will do anything to stop them, even if it A. benefits them and B. is the human thing to do.

    November 8, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  12. They call me "tater salad"

    This is exactly the kind of guy the Republicans need!!!! Someone who is in it for his constituents and not just in it for campaign contributions from Big Business and special interest groups! But, unfortunately the conservetive wacko's have put a big bullseye on him now, to be sure!

    November 8, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. Taylor

    Why are you people so mad because people will get health insurance?

    November 8, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  14. Pat F

    joel palmer, I've been listening to that crapola for 40 years now. The reality is, if men could get pregnant, there would be no such thing as abortion, because no MAN would flush his own offspring down the toilet, and allow himself to be brutalized like abortion brutalizes women.

    That is the real truth – men would NEVER let their insides get scraped out like a Halloween pumpkin, and dump their children in the garbage. You don't have a clue about what you are talking about.

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

    Mr. Cao you are a Courageous man. I know all thenut case Republicans will trash you but you did the right thing put people before Party.

    November 8, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. Bill

    Rep Cao should be voted out of office along with the democraps that voted for this takeover of our rights to keep what we earn. This measure is unconstitutional and will not make it past the Senate.

    Why would anyone... even a democrap vote for a bill that inflates our mounting debt under Obama without.. TORT REFORM and Insurance over state lines. IS this so obvious that even a democrap can't figure it out!

    This just means Glory Days for conservatives in the next elections...go democraps, seal your fate you idiots! Isn't this like an animal chewing off it's own leg?

    November 8, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. Nick in LA

    Today's award for best comment:

    "...Good for Cao but shame on dems for buckling on funding abortion;
    If men could get pregnant; the gop would make abortion a sacrament..."

    joel palmer November 8th, 2009 12:30 pm ET

    (Well said, sir! Congratulations.)

    November 8, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. GOPer

    Mr. Cao, you're a good man. Thank You for doing the right thing.

    November 8, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. OverRuled

    "... to hold a seat that the Republican party would need." Was he joking when saying this? Why would the Republican party need him anyway if he ends up voting with the Democraps? It would have been much better if he called himself a Democrap. I am a Vietnamese American and so ashamed of what this bastard just did to our country.

    November 8, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  20. M Brown

    This is the worst piece of legislation to ever come out. IT IS GOING TO COME BACK AND HAUNT US FOREVER
    JUST WAIT till the TAXES BEGIN TO really support this bill. And JUST wait until we lose good doctors because they can't get paid enough.
    And then there is the budget shortfalls and the reduced benefits.
    It is ALL just a matter of time now. NOTHING IS FREE

    November 8, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  21. Kevin

    Thank You Congressman Cao you did the right thing.

    November 8, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. Steady Eddie

    Cao, get your resume updated. You're gone next year. Back stabber!!!!!!!!

    November 8, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. kenarok

    Too bad the administration does not worry about creating jobs as much as taking over are health care. I support who ever cares about his or her fellow countryman.And I really do not feel the love.While everyone is worried about healthcare bill that wont take effect until 2013 maybe, are country is going down the tubes , UNEMPLOYMENT,a banking system that is out of control.If everyone would stop the bull and wake up and realize were all in this together, we can get thru this.

    November 8, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  24. Gloria

    Finally, a republican who put the needs of his district ahead of his own needs!!!

    November 8, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. Midas

    Cao – if you're going to vote as a Democrat on these disastrous bills, then the GOP doesn't really have much of a need for you in that seat, got it? You're effectively a Democrat in this regard, and it's in the GOP's interest to replace you, got it?

    That you sold your vote to the WH is even worse than simply voting for this thing because you foolishly think it's the right thing to do. Despicable.

    November 8, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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