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. tata mcgee

    I wold like to thank CNN for its hard work in promoting the Obamist agenda. It paid off for the American people. FOX , sadly, allows people with disperate opinions to fuzzy up our president's agenda, CNN allows Mr. Obama to focus his attention on the American people and helps him sculpt their thoughts and decisions bringing about change we can all believe in. All Hail the Obama and CNN !!

    November 8, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  2. eolufemi

    Timely phone call.

    November 8, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. The Lady

    Thank you for putting your count;ry first.

    November 8, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. Dan, TX

    Notice how the democrats complain about how the conservatives have to name call and the republicans complain about how the liberals have to name call?

    It isn't about liberal or conservative or democrat or republican. There are rude, angry, stupid, people posting in support or opposition of both sides.

    This only proves there is no God. People love their parties and political ideology more than God.

    November 8, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Jeremy

    There's a specific provision in the bill that says no federal dollars will go to fund abortions accept in the case of rape, incest, or if childbirth will kill the mother. What are you anti-abortion people talking about? Isnt that what you wanted?

    November 8, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  6. ICARE

    We need more CAO. The first step is to pass it. The second step is to change laws to make healthcare more affordable for 300 million Americans.

    We need to change laws and stop red tapes from hurting the best cheap drugs to be used.

    We need to change laws and stop red tapes to buy cheaper equipmetns

    November 8, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  7. Darrel

    Ya know it makes me think, why is there unlimited money for war and killing but we place a spending limit on our health care.

    The republicans need to start hitting the streets in their home states and listening to the people. Stop worrying about the GOP and whether or not your going to get blackballed by them, take care of your constituants and your constituants will take care of you. LOOK AT YOUR LOCAL ISSUES

    November 8, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  8. twistedliberties

    Of course, he's not even an American. He shouldn't have even been elected to Congress to vote in the first place.
    Send him back to Vietnam!

    November 8, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  9. Fatima Peter

    I think most of the people who are protesting this health care reform even know what they are talking about! They are either not happy about their own circumstances or so ignorant that they have bought into the conservative agenda to stop any ideas put forth by Obama and will do anything to stop them, even if it benefits them and is the human thing to do.
    If they are so much against public health care, then they should also protest about public education. We never used the public education system but we still pay for it and don't complain about it.

    November 8, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  10. David S. in Houston

    Thank you, Mr. Cao.

    David S.

    November 8, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  11. Strange Bed Fellows

    It's Good to See that Votes can still be swayed with $$$$.

    Bush's Katrina failures brings US bipartisan Health Care Insurance Reform. Forgiving Katrina loans brings Wellness to America.

    Bail out Main Street not Wall Street. Stop Foreign Investors from Destroying American Health and Wellness.

    Families First.

    November 8, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  12. Dan in San Marcos

    Well, Bill, perhaps you are rich enough to pay for any imaginable illness or injury that should befall you or your family, and don't really care what happens to the rest of us. Or perhaps you have spent the money on a boat instead of health insurance and will rely on my taxes to pay for the emergency room visit when you or your family gets sick or injured. Or perhaps you have insurance and are one of the lucky ones that will never lose your source of income and the insurance that comes with it. Or perhaps you are one of the lucky ones that, even though you can't get insurance for some reason, will never get seriously sick or injured. Not all are so blessed.

    November 8, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  13. Carole

    Representative Cao is a true American!!!!!!! He is not worried about running for re-election, but more about his constituents. Great man!!!

    Thank you Mr. President! Thank you Speaker Pelosi!!!

    November 8, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  14. Joanna in PA

    Bipartisanship works BOTH ways. How many times has Obama given credit to various GOP members? More times than i can count. How many times have the dems pleaded with the GOP to debate the issues and yet still barely any of them want to. How can anyone blame Obama for only 1 GOP member voting for reform? The dems keep extending there hand only to have it slapped down.
    I see comment on this page saying if the GOP blocks health care reform it will be the end of the Obama admin. That really doesn't sound like they want to work with the dems at all. Proof. so do not blame the lack of GOP support on anyone but the GOP. excluding Snow and Cao. Hopefully more will realize why they were voted into office and stop supporting the cooperation that fund there campaigns.

    November 8, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  15. John Philadelphia

    They could have saved a lot of money by using one of the many prescription discount programs in use currently, by incorporating the card that's already accepted at more than 60,000 pharmacies throughout the US and is free to to have and free to use available at It can save up to 75% off regular prices.

    November 8, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  16. Tom

    finally.. a brave man in the GOP.

    November 8, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  17. springbreeze

    See you all in a broken bankrupt country..

    November 8, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. jim tuffit

    Cut cao loose. Like scozzafava this goof is a demonrat infesting the GOP.

    November 8, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  19. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    The Dems don't care how much this will really cost, it's not their money. Watch your taxes go way up!

    Has anyone seen how badly the vaccine for H1N1 program is working out? Just another disaster!! Good bye freedom of choice and your money!!!

    November 8, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  20. Black Viper

    Why is no journalist asking this Republican Representatives in the house and senate crying out loud that the bill is going to cut medicare for seniors if they are trying now to pretect medicare they fought so hard against at the time of it's implimentation?
    Somebody need to call this hypocrites on this lies.
    Oh I forgot the American People forget the past quickly and ready to believe any nonsense coming from the GOP

    November 8, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  21. JB

    What's the point in holding "a seat that the Republican party would need" if you are going to vote the way a Democrat would anyway? Throw the bum out and vote Democrat. At least you know what you're getting.

    November 8, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  22. TBA

    I bet Rush Limbaugh, GOP, RNC, and Micheal Steele is steaming up, b/c Cao did the right thing for the people whom he represents.

    November 8, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  23. historian

    Thank you Rep Cao – you are one Rublican that is educated, responsible, mature and an adult. You went to Washington DC to work and make a different.

    November 8, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  24. demogal

    As a former resident of South Louisiana, I can state that the voters in Rep. Cao's district are desperately in need of help in obtaining health care. He did the right thing, for his conscience and for the people he was elected to represent. That makes him a good and decent man, and a Republican–not REPUGNICANT–like most of the party's officials these days!

    November 8, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  25. Fatima Peter

    It would be good to investigate the anti healthcare congress men and women and what kind of contributions in one form of another they are getting from health insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Can some organization like can take on such a task?

    November 8, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
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