March 19th, 2010
05:05 PM ET
12 years ago

Cao: 'Right now, I am a firm no'

Washington (CNN) – The only House Republican who previously supported the health care reform bill said Friday that the issue of abortion is a stumbling block for him as a final House vote approaches.

"Right now, I am a firm no, because I do believe that the Senate language on the abortion issue is insufficient for me to support the Senate bill," Rep. Ahn "Joseph" Cao, R-Louisiana, told CNN's Brianna Keilar,

The Louisiana Republican said his concern was that the final legislative package unveiled Thursday by Democrats does not apply to the Hyde Amendment, the longstanding policy against federal funding of abortions, to the federal dollars provided to community health centers.

Cao also said that he thought the language in the Senate bill, which is set for consideration by the House, does not do enough to comply with the Hyde Amendment.

"The present language in the Senate bill provides a tremendous loophole for federal funds of abortion and will eventually expand abortion services," he said.

Cao added, "Based on my reading of the Senate bill, many of the fundings through the health care reform bill will not be subject to the Hyde Amendment."

Asked about the fact that his congressional district is overwhelmingly Democratic and in support of health care reform, the Catholic lawmaker responded, "It is not wrong to vote against what my constituents want but it is wrong to vote against my own conscience."

Cao said if a coalition of House Democrats led by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, succeeds in getting stronger language regarding abortion funding into the final legislation, that would "open the door" to him reconsidering his vote.

Related video: Stupak still a 'no'

Last year, when the House passed its own version of health care reform, Cao surprised many political observers by being the only Republican to vote in favor of that bill, a piece of legislation that included provisions regarding abortion demanded by Stupak's coalition.

Filed under: Abortion • Health care
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Luke Brown

    Let see. Forcing a woman or girl to carry child she does not want to raise versus health care for 41 million people.

    This guy is a world-class bone head. Sorry Cher.

    At least you don't have to worry about someone raping you and getting you pregnant.

    March 19, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  2. m smith

    why should everyone be held up because some have a religious objection. If you dont'believe in abortion. Find .let your conscience be your guide but don't force you agenda on everyone else. Democracy remember? Besides the bill does not cover abortion.

    March 19, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  3. The Lady from Georgia

    I don't unerstand why these congress men keep using the issue of abortion as their reason for not voting for Health care. If there are 40 million abortions a year being perform I really do not think the government is currently paying for these abortions. These abortions are being done at ABORTION CLINICS and will continue to be done at these clinics even if the bill is passed or not. If you want to stop abortions attack the clinics and not deprive 31 million people of health care.

    March 19, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  4. bill r

    aperently cao is holding out for somebody with deeper pockets

    March 19, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  5. letsdothisalready

    For those switching from "no" to "yes", I commend you. That means you have a backbone to stand up for what's right. Keep up the good work. I'll vote for you any Democrats. Dems for Democracy

    Republicans are once again, using scare tactics, threats, fake memos, and any other tricks they're pull out their bags to fight what inevitiable.

    The GOP has done these things for so long that they've don't realize that the American voters (Obama supporters) have had enough of the scandals and lies. GOP/Health Insurance Companies are Hypocrit

    March 19, 2010 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  6. m smith

    some republican guy is a real nut job probable sees commies under his bed he certenly does not know the difference between communism and socialism so that should tell you something. This guy has more poor people in his district and has no compassion for them . But thats the good ol south for you. Love how they act so rightous. Wonder how many women he has been with??

    March 19, 2010 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  7. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Wow, a Republican voting against the healthcare bill? What are the chances of that?

    March 19, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  8. toughlove's wrong to not provide healthcare for all OUT of the womb, but you can literally be torn limb from limb IN the womb.
    Oh...I guess not funny

    March 19, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  9. Perusing-through


    It is amazing the power & control John Boehner and the Republican GOP has on every single Congressional member.

    Men who vote 'Yes' to send people's sons and daughters off to die in wars, , , , , , don't have enough spine to vote for Health Reform in a district where it is most desperately needed.

    What a bunch of cowards.

    March 19, 2010 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  10. Ken, Arizona

    That's right coward; cover your ass. Now he's afraid of the GOP.

    March 19, 2010 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  11. j

    Here's one guy that can be voted out of office next election.

    March 19, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  12. Sandy

    Quit making excuses on why you are voting NO! The fact remains that you are a Rep and the grand poopa told you to vote NO. No guts. Maybe you rethink your decision.

    March 19, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain

    It blows me away the hypocrisy of all these folks concerned about funding for abortion.

    They need to take a look at their current health care insurance policies – my guess is they are currently "funding" abortion with their premiums.

    And they should all promptly drop their coverage.

    March 19, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  14. Eric from MI

    to MsDp:

    he's not really worried about the abortion issue...this is just another republican talking point that his party convinced him to use to vote no and obstruct this bill from going through...the fact of the matter is that the republicans hate president obama with every fiber of their beings...they will vote no on any bill he trys to pass for the rest of his term which unfortunately, due to the short attention span of the american public will be his only term...then we will vote a republican back into office along with a congressional majority (because we will blame the party in power for our failures not the republicans who really in this case are the ones to blame) they will screw up epically, then we will vote them dems back in who will be obstructed by the republicans again and so on and so forth until the end of this country...I love this country but until we all see that a two party system is not democracy anymore we will always have an ineffective white house that does nothing for it's people...either because they don't care about us (republicans) or they just dont have the balls to do it (democrats)

    March 19, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    The elephant in the room is that the Republicans have absolutely NO intention of ever supporting any kind of meaningful health care reform.

    If they did, they would have done something over the last 30 years. But no, they've blocked it at every turn.

    Republicans don't want to spend a dime on the American people, including those military personnel who they deploy over and over and over again in their two unfunded wars; or those military personnel who have come back wounded; or those military personnel who died in service for their country.

    Republicans have made it perfectly clear that they have no ideas for our country except to continue to give tax cuts to the wealthy so they can continue laying off Americans as they build factories overseas where labor is cheap and environmental protections don't exist.

    Republicans use fear and hate and division and lies to further their tried-and-failed policies.

    And if you're a politician that opposes them, they go after you and make it so hard on your family that you quit.

    Republicans are a bunch of bottom-feeding low-lifes. Which is why so many moderate Republicans are leaving the party in droves and idiots like the teabaggers are joining it.

    GOP = Party Before Country

    March 19, 2010 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  16. Mike

    you're on your way out anyway - enjoy your one term

    March 19, 2010 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  17. An 8 year old ELEPHANT dung heap, does not transform into compost in just 1 year!

    As men we have no say about abortion issues.

    When Cao, has a watermelon via his navel, then he will have a right to demand what a woman can do or not do, until that time, not so much.

    March 19, 2010 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  18. Michael

    FL: "I can assure you no true Republican would have ever voted in favor of any legislation that took away rights of anyone." You are kidding right? This bill doesn't take away rights from anyone. Not one. I would dare you to name what right you are losing. In contrast the entire Republican platform is about taking away rights. They take away a woman's right to choose, gay people's right to marry, everyone's right to sue in civil matters in court. In recent years the Republicans have taken away the right to trial by jury, the right to habeas corpus, the right to assemble (remember the RNC convention in NYC and the beating of protesters), the right to privacy (remember these people secretly wiretapped thousands of American phones without a warrant). With the exception of gun rights, there isn't a right to Republicans have ever seen that they haven't tried to take away.

    March 19, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  19. An 8 year old ELEPHANT dung heap, does not transform into compost in just 1 year!

    "It is not wrong to vote against what my constituents want but it is wrong to vote against my own conscience."

    The irony in that statement and how the Rabid Reich NAZI's in his purity party are acting against the "socialist" trying to bring health care access to 31 million working poor Americans, is actually comical.

    March 19, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  20. BeverlyNC

    I don't understand what has changed with the People in his district. He voted YES before stating he had to stand up for all the People he represented who had no healthcare and needed it desperately.

    They still need it but I guess the Republican leadership got to this once good man and threatened him.

    Now he is abandoning his constituents and betraying them just like all other hypocritical Republicans. We the voters will be using our NO votes in November to rid Congress of Republican traitors who have betrayed working families yet another time.

    March 19, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  21. j

    Democrats, Liberals, and Progressives must join together now to stop the Republicans and Conservatives. Every vote counts. It's time to get organized and let our voices and votes be heard!

    March 19, 2010 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  22. AF

    For any menber of congress, if you vote NO for the ordinary people this time, they will vote NO for you too. If you vote YES for the ordinary American people, then they will vote YES for you in election day. PERIODE

    March 19, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
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