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. Jason

    This is a great example of a representative listening to his constituents rather than the national interests of the party. Thank you Rep. Cao for doing what you were elected to do.

    November 8, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. Maggie

    I watched the voting for the health care reform last night and was appaled to see that near the end a Republican voted yes after the president called and asked for his support. I am very dissapointed in him. we need all the support we can get to stop this evil and unfair health care from being approved. It not only will bankurupt our country and destroy our future generations' rights to survive in this economy. It is not fair. This administration will cause us so many problems, such as leading us into socialism, more terror attacks, increase in taxes, takinga away from the SociaL Security. The government has from day one robbed our Social Security system and promised to pay back what they barrowed. They have not paid a penny back. Just think how much money would be there now without the corrupt gov.

    November 8, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  3. Tom

    One doesn't have to go outside this threat to understand how polarized we as Americans are right now. President Obama won the election by obtaining 53% of the vote on a platform of hope and change and we are seeing increases in job losses, taxes, and gloomy outlooks despite the positive spin the media provides.

    Bottom line now is enjoy the kudos, the feelings of superiority, and patting each other on the back b/c next election Republicans will win and undo all the damage created by this administration and Democrats in congress. People need to wake up and read the constitution and understand that government isn't supposed to do everything for us or control out lives through lasws and regulations. We are supposed to live out lives and do the best we can with the government providing for the common defense and promoting the general welfare...that doesn't mean welfare state!!!

    01/20/13...can't wait!!!

    November 8, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  4. You're all liberal losers

    Whether you're a democrat or a "moderate" republican, you're all BEGGARS one-half a breath away from standing on a street corner with a cardboard sign asking for loose change.

    You woke up one day and discovered that you made some poor choices. Your life isn't all you dreamed it could be. So, you looked around and discovered people who made the right choices, worked hard and sacrificed to get where they wanted to be. You asked yourself, how can I get what they have? Work? No, there has to be a simpler way. Steal it. Tax the producers and distribute their effort among the looters.

    But you're not just stealing from the producers, you're stealing from future generations. You're destroying the greatness that was America and replacing it with facism and socialism.

    What happened to the self-reliance of Emerson and the founders. Tocqueville warned about these dangers in his book(s) Democracy in America. But why bother reading? You've discovered reality on tv.

    November 8, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  5. Willsooooon!!!

    I agree with Cao. Unless it is a health issue where the mother's or the fetus' health is in danger, abortion should not be funded by taxpayer for health care reform. But I think even health issues are not going to be funded.

    So I thank democrats for correcting that, and applaud Cao for being lone reasonable republican voice.

    As for the republican argument for immigrants receiving health services with a stolen social security number or a fake ID in spite of the language in bill prohibiting...that is just ridiculous. It is called a crime and people do it all the time to get what they want regardless of the can't blame health reform or democrats for that.

    November 8, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  6. blunt11105

    I dont support the bill myself but can surely understand a politician voting to refelct the wishes & needs of his constituents, how do you think the immigration amnesty bills were defeated????

    November 8, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  7. Joshua College Station Texas

    I'm touched that a Republican would vote with his constituency even if it means bucking the party line. In this era of hyperpartisan politics, it is refreshing and perhaps even a little groundbreaking for this man to do so. It speaks of a time pre-Gingrich when politicians in Washington were motivated by their loyalty to their constituents and their personal platforms rather than lobbyists, campaign contributions, and party lines.

    November 8, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. Michael

    I need someone to explain this contradiction to me: the GOP supposedly values life, being all pro-life when it comes to reproductive rights, yet they won't vote for a bill which would enable people to have health care access, unless of course, it includes a provision barring women from having access to abortions. On the other hand these same people have no problem with the death penalty, or starting unnecessary wars, killing thousands of people needlessly, or limiting access to basic services to help people stay alive(i.e. food stamps, welfare, etc.) Also let's not forget that for all their talk of being anti-"big government", it was under their watch that we had an increase in the Cabinet, an invasion of privacy, both on an individual and national level, and an expansion of government power. So, can anyone explain to me exactly what they REALLY are?

    November 8, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. ATL Guy

    Dude congrats on making history. You would go down in history as the guy that crossed the Republican picket line to support the needs of your district. All of the other Republicans will have to go back to their states and look their unemployed and other people denied coverage by the insurance companies and would have to explain their votes to them. In the end, after all the lies and distortion fade away, you would stand apart because you had the guts to vote with your conscience. History will remember you and you will be rewarded immensely for your courage. I think you should stay a Republican for the time being and chart an independent course. Support everything that the Republicans oppose and oppose everything they support. Then when time comes for re-election you should run as an independent. Trust me, Obama will do his part to repay you for your vote and your courage. Because unlike the Taliban like Republican Party, the President is a man of character and values.

    November 8, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  10. lee

    I am very happy health care reform is through the House and on to the Senate. Please call your Senator and tell them to vote for reform.

    We need government by the people, not for the corporations.

    November 8, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. Unemployed In Iowa because of Obama

    Just another Republican that got a JOB from Obama and was made happy, VOTE HIM OUT.

    November 8, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. Susan in NC

    Thank you, Representative Cao. Your vote took intelligence and courage and I'm certain your constituents are grateful. I agree with an earlier post - Republicants, maybe here's your next "superstar"?

    November 8, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  13. Grrr-awful-o

    That's an interesting story. An even more story would be an explanation of why 39 democrats voted against this bill. Nancy only cleared the number to pass the bill by 2 votes. Not exactly a landslide. And at what cost?

    November 8, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  14. Nea

    Some of you are just down right selfish this man did the right thing by voting for this and he is getting criticized for this, even though the bill is not perfect its a person heart that counts just like this President is trying to do whats right in getting the country back on track, No he donot have all the answers but at least he is trying to do something instead of complaing about the mess the last President left him, but no he is trying his darn best to do whats right and one day he will be Blessed for it along with Mr.Cao. GOD BLESS YOU Mr. Cao and President Obama.

    November 8, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  15. oldtimer

    This bill is nothing more then a gift for all those that are to lazy to earn a living. They want to be taken care of from the cradle to the grave, so they can sit on their collective asses and let other pay.

    November 8, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  16. No Hillary = No Obama

    Obama probably took advantage of this guy's "freshman" status – he saw an opportunity and acted on it. The whole thing is disgusting.

    November 8, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  17. gl, Pittsburgh

    This goes to show you that only all white Republicans vote agianst anything that would help minoirty. He vote speaks volume for the minority. If he had been white, then it would have been another no vote. I am so sick of the hatful white men in the party Republicans that all voted against this bill.

    November 8, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  18. Brian Rich

    I wonder if Bush ever had the guts to call a Democrat and ask for their support?

    November 8, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  19. gl, Pittsburgh

    Republicans need more minoirties in their party that can help fight against these evil white men in the Republicans party that continue to vote against anything that will help the poor in this country.

    November 8, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  20. Alex from Seattle

    Why do the Dems continue to bend over backward to get the token GOP vote? They have the majority and should show some solidarity to move their agenda!

    November 8, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  21. jim s

    A republican with out a big $ contribution from United Health Care

    November 8, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  22. capnmike

    What? Ya mean there's a repiglican who isn't bought and paid-for by the Big Insurance Companies and their lobbyists? Amazing. Who would have believed it? This guy actually stood up for what's right for Americans instead of Big Business. Too bad the rest of his party are such lying crooks.

    November 8, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  23. dan

    Get bent republicains.Finally someone who saw the light on the party of no.

    November 8, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  24. Alex

    For all you that say this bill is "unconstitutional", you OBVIOUSLY have no idea what our U.S. Constitution says!!!

    Article 1 Section 8 states:
    "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general WELFARE of the United States."

    Why are you repubs so gung ho about spending tax money on wars (defense) but not on the WELFARE of the American people?!? Your unconstitutional!!!!

    And if you don't like it, then LEAVE!

    November 8, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  25. jane

    It is heartening to see at least one Republican vote according to what is best for his district - rather than being too weak to stand up to the profiteers in the insurance industry.

    November 8, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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