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. Beverly in NC

    Finally a Republican with common sense and who is in Washington to look after the constituents who elected him to Congress. He listfened to the People and voted for what was huname and right. He voted his consciience instead of following failed Republican rhetoric of hate, lies, and bribe-taking from the insurance industry.

    We need more dedicated civil servants in our government like this Congressmen. He needs to go talk to his Senator, Mary Landriru (D-LA) on also doing the right thing on healthcare reform in the Senate.

    Republicans – wake up – everything is NOT about you and your disntegrating Party. It's about the People, stupid!

    November 8, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. bob

    you traitor. where are these foreigners coming from. i'm scared.

    November 8, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  3. Fan of Common Sense

    That's it RINO, forget about doing the right thing. Forget about doing the RESPONSIBLE thing. All that matters is getting those federal dollars into your district so you can get yourself re-elected. To hell with what's good for the country. Principles are so passe'.


    November 8, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. C Spurgeon

    My We have a Republican who doesn't vote party line regardless of
    what is good for constituents. Wow i wish we could iport some of his ethics to Florida where all the republican reps follow the bidding of the national party. A great case for term limits. Anyhow my hat off to this particular Republican.

    November 8, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. hulamama51

    coward ! too afraid he might not be he sold his "vote"...

    November 8, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. Chris V ~ Albany, Ny

    I have a thought for all the people who are crying about this health care bill because they think that this will be the government taking over our personal freedom. I wonder what all of you people think of the Patriot Act? It was basically a takeover of our personal freedom and our personal privacy! Hypocrites! I'd rather be able to be healthy and lead a long productive life, health care has a role in this!

    November 8, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  7. Aspen Professor

    Cao showing more courage than the rest of the GOP. These NO Party fools are allowing the right-wing extremists to control their Party and lead them to being ultimately flushed down the toilet of history. Sad!

    November 8, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. Jay PA

    Public Health Care

    – now the Government will have access to your medical records. Good luck with that!

    – healthcare will be a huge program run by the most wasteful and inefficient entity in the country. If you disagree, please post successful large government programs as examples.

    – while healthcare won't get here until 2013, business killing taxes will arrive immediately. This bill is a job killer and will further strain the budget.

    – Obama promised "bipartisanship", yet no Republican ammendments were even brought to the floor. Unprecedented that two bills with no support from the minority party are blank checks for Pellosi.

    November 8, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. Rebecca

    Finally a Republican with a spine.

    November 8, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  10. T

    Do NOT be saddling the American public with debt just to make yourselves look good! Cutting programs in the guise of it being taken care of by something else is a LIE, and hardly responsible! You only listen to the few who want it and every other handout they can come across!

    November 8, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  11. Independent

    Finally one Republican that put people first. I saw part of the debate last night and Boehner has a huge stick up his you know what. So rude and orange. Some of the comments made by Republicans last are so far fetched. It was very funny.

    November 8, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  12. Ed

    I just sent an email to Chairman Michael Steele asking that you be removed from the Republican party. This Bill is nothing more that and UN-Constitutional power grab. What RIGHT do you have to try and take over 1/6 of the American economy?!?! The US Consitution FORBIDES IT! Your Pink Slip will be coming at the next elections.

    And NO! I'm NOT a Republican!

    November 8, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. John NY Independent

    This is a statement of just how disconnected our congress really is. There is little good about this bill. I hope the senate quashes it. This is fiscally stupid. They ignore the cuts to the competition barriers and think a gov;t run organization of lazy ignorant state workers will be better. That is laughable. Abortion was the only plus I could see with the publuic option and they axed that. STUPID!!!!

    November 8, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  14. barb

    Rep.Cao is an amazing person. Why has it become such a rare event for a Representative to actually represent the people?

    November 8, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. Northwest

    Why is it woman take all the blame if they end up pregnant ?
    You would think for the way people blame woman when getting pregnant they became pregnant all on their own not another soul had anything to do with it .
    It is always the womans fault any way you roll the dice but
    then after all the blame game and being pregnant and its her own body others believe they can come in and make all their rules decisions as to what she can do and what she cannot do with her own body .

    November 8, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  16. Dianne

    Just a quick thanks to Rep. Cao and these other loyal Democrats. This historic moment heralds the end of the Democratic Party as currently constituted. VICTORY 2010!!! Woo-Hoo!

    November 8, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  17. Ron

    Mr. Shortterm congressman. Here is a lesson I learned sometime back, if you sign a contract without reading it thoroughly, you're an idiot.

    If my congressman did the same thing,and I voted for him again, I would be an idiot.

    Mr. Congressman, I am not an idiot! You on the other hand......

    November 8, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. OJ

    Great accomplishment
    When the previous administration spent money on wars, the republicans were clapping their hands. Now, Obama wants to spend money on health care, and the republicans are mad and upset. So, it is ok to spend money on killing innocent people, but it is control when the government takes care of its own people?
    If Obama were to start a war, I assure you that all these republicans would be the first to support him, because they enjoy blood shedding.

    November 8, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  19. Manny1955

    Life and death is in the power of the guys are walking around here talking about your kids and grandkids not being able to live the same life or better life than you....enjoying all of freedoms that we now enjoy....I will never say that because my kids and grandkids "will" live a better more prosperously life than I have...not just money but health and happiness....I will never pick negatively over my kids and when you speak it it will the way...I have lived a wonderful life...retired after 34 years of service with my company at the age of 54.....I expect even greater things for my kids and grandkids and I will happen for matter what!

    November 8, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  20. citizen

    Shame on you Cao...considering where you came from you should see exactly where this "worst peice of legislation since the New Deal" will take our Nation.
    You sir are a Coward and Traitor!

    November 8, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  21. Andrew

    Be it a pub or dem who votes their conscience over getting reelected; it can be said that they are the truest of patriots and servants to ALL of US.

    November 8, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  22. Eric in Colorado

    Time to log your vote Americans, this vote shows who is for Americans Health and those who aren't. Remeber congressman, America is watching who accepts the lobbyist money and who votes for Americans, not for party!!

    November 8, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  23. normajean

    One big question. Why do men take it upon themselves to even comment on what women should do with their bodies?One man rants on about abortion as if he'd personally had one. These questions and answers are best left to a woman and her doctor. You men, butt out.

    November 8, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  24. smiff

    Amazing......... the freebie generation has acquired a whole pile of support from the hippie free love crowd. Cao is just another politician from a low rent district that only survives by government subsidy. I know cuz I live in one. The loudest and shrillest voices in this debate come from the free-loaders and their political democrats and liberals. They love abortion and low life dependancy because most of them make their livivg catering to that constituency and keeping that bloc of voters enslaved to the things thay are TOLD they are ENTITLED TO!!! Entitlement not responsibility is the game face here. Unless you are giving something away you are a hateful bigot. Ask any liberal. Go ahead ask em. As far as men understanding pregnancy...its about responsibility not an easy gov provided out! As far as other gov provided services....YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING OR IGNORANT OR BOTH!!! But hey jokes and stupidity are sorta free...RIGHT!!!!

    November 8, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  25. Cao caved

    Any Republican who votes for this poor excuse for health care reform should be thrown out of the party. This bill is the return of big government. Shame on Cao for caving into the "charms" of Comrade Obama.

    November 8, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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