Rep. Cao Succumbs To GOP Arm-Twisting

cao.jpgEarlier this week, New Orleans’ freshman congressman Joseph Cao (R) stated that he would vote for the economic recovery package. “I believe that more likely than not, I will vote for it because the 2nd Congressional District needs a stimulus package,” he said. Even on the day of the vote, Cao was telling reporters that he was “leaning yes.”

When the vote occurred yesterday, Cao voted no, succumbing to the GOP’s pressure tactics. Politico reports:

Beforehand, Cao acknowledged that Republican leaders had put “pressure” on him to oppose the package, and the party’s chief deputy whip, California Rep. Kevin O. McCarthy, stood near Cao during the entire vote.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), the Republican whip, “said he had talked to Cao regularly, including the last 24 hours.” Cao emphasized that the leadership did not apply “extreme pressure,” however.

After flip-flopping, Cao couldn’t get his story straight. He claimed, “Personally I was always against the bill.” He also told the Times-Picayune that the Obama administration made little effort to court his vote, but he told The Hill, “There was a White House representative who came over to my office [on Thursday], specifically assigned to me.”

Norman Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said Cao’s hopes for winning a second term depended on “people in the district identifying him as a thoroughly independent person who is not in the thrall of the Republican leadership. Now anyone running against him can say, ‘He’s a Republican mouthpiece.'”