Earlier this month, New Orleans’s new 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.”
In the end, however, Cao succumbed to GOP arm-twisting and voted against the package. The Republican party’s chief deputy whip stood near the freshman lawmaker during the entire vote, and Cao admitted that the leaders had applied some “pressure” on him to vote no, so that they could boast 100 percent opposition from their party.
BayouBuzz.com reports that many of Cao’s constituents are now angry and may launch a recall petition:
Congressman Joseph “Anh”Cao, a Republican, who defeated William “Bill” Jefferson is facing a recall petition because of his vote on the Barack Obama stimulus package. The recall has been initiated by a group of ministers. [...]
One elected official, State Representative Juan A. LaFonta, Democrat of District 96 told Bayoubuzz that he does not know about the existence of the petition but that he would sign it. … “People are starving and Cao needs to represent the people of the district”, LaFonta said.
In an interview with ThinkProgress last month, Cao admitted that part of the reason he was elected was because he separated himself from the national Republican party. “Our message, going into the race, was that this was not a race concerning party,” said Cao. “This was a race for the rebuilding of the Second District. A race to promote ethics, to promote action.” Watch it:
As one of his reasons for opposing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Cao claimed that New Orleans was being shortchanged. He cited the fact that just 4,800 jobs are expected to be created or retained under the bill — a number that is lower than in other Louisiana districts, due to the area’s population loss after Hurricane Katrina.
However, that’s not looking at the whole picture. As the Times-Picayune has reported, “[m]ore than $91 million of the $308 million the state will receive in federal stimulus dollars for roadwork will be spent on two major projects in the New Orleans area.” Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) also inserted a $1.4 billion provision to more quickly settle disputed FEMA disaster claims from the 2005 hurricanes.
Of course, if Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has his way, Lousiana may not even get all the money that’s been allocated for it.
The Times-Picayune has more details on the recall effort:
The Recall Anh Cao Committee faces daunting odds. The effort has 180 days from its filing Monday to gather 100,000 valid signatures from registered voters in the district — a third of all district voters — in order to get a recall vote. And even if they succeed at that, and voters approve the recall, it appears that Congress would not accept the result.
The Rev. Aubry Wallace of Marrero, who heads the recall committee, said they would face each challenge to their effort in turn but said flatly, “This is going to be a successful effort.” He said they have already gathered 8,000 signatures.