health care bill's lone republican supporter: anh 'joseph' cao

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted 220 to 215 to pass the Affordable Health Care for America Act. Here's CNN video of the passage of the bill.

Out of 177 Republican lawmakers, just one crossed party lines to support the Democrats' historic, fiercely debated health reform legislation: Health Care's LONE Republican Supporter Is Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao.

Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, the Louisiana Republican who hails from a decidedly Democratic New Orleans district, voted yea on the final passage of legislation. Cao was a major (and possibly the lone) target for Democrats hoping to get even a semblance of bipartisan support for the bill.

After the vote, Cao explained that voting for health reform was "a decision of conscience." He released a long statement explaining his vote and emphasizing the fact that he also voted in favor of a key anti-abortion amendment, presumably to try to stave off the heavy incoming attacks from conservative activists:
Of his vote, Cao said: "Tonight, I voted to keep taxpayer dollars from funding abortion and to deliver access to affordable health care to the people of Louisiana.

Cao said: "I read the versions of the House [health reform] bill. I listened to the countless stories of Orleans and Jefferson Parish citizens whose health care costs are exploding - if they are able to obtain health care at all. Louisianans needs real options for primary care, for mental health care, and for expanded health care for seniors and children. [...]

Cao said: "Today, I obtained a commitment from President Obama that he and I will work together to address the critical health care issues of Louisiana including the FMAP crisis and community disaster loan forgiveness, as well as issues related to Charity and Methodist Hospitals. And, I call on my constituents to support me as I work with him on these issues.

Cao said: "I have always said that I would put aside partisan wrangling to do the business of the people. My vote tonight was based on my priority of doing what is best for my constituents.
Cao's Congressional career thus far has been something of a surprising anomaly. Last December, the Republican newcomer defeated a longtime incumbent (who was battling corruption charges) in a heavily Democratic congressional district in Louisiana to become the first Vietnamese American elected to Congress.

As a Republican Vietnamese American congressman representing a 60% black, 60% Democratic district, it's been an uphill climb to strike the right political balance ever since. No doubt, you'll probably be hearing some nasty right wing backlash over the next few days. More on Rep. Cao here: One Republican votes for healthcare bill. And here: Who is Cao?

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