Earlier this week, Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) suggested to The Hill that he might “buck his party” and vote in favor of President Obama’s budget. The suggestion appeared eerily similar to his earlier suggestion that he might break with his party and support Obama’s economic recovery package. But then — as now — Cao couldn’t find the political courage to follow through when it came time to vote. Last night, along with the rest of the House Republican Conference and a handful of “moderate” Democratic members, Cao voted no on Obama’s budget. When he was first elected, Cao claimed he would be an independent voice on Capitol Hill. Now we know better.
Stories tagged with “Joseph Cao”
Several days before the House voted on President Obama’s economic recovery package, freshman Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) told the Times-Picayune that he would “more likely than not” vote for the legislation because the “2nd Congressional District needs a stimulus package.” When it came time to vote, however, Cao gave into pressure from his party and voted no.
Now, Cao appears to be flirting again with the idea of bucking his party, telling the Hill earlier today that he may vote for Obama’s proposed budget:
Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.) may buck his party when the House votes on President Obama’s budget proposal later this week. The freshman lawmaker told The Hill that his constituents are split, adding that he wants more information before deciding whether to stick with his party or side with the president. [...]
“At this point, I’m not sure which is approach is better,” Cao said Tuesday morning. If he votes yes, Cao would be the first Republican in recent memory to support a Democratic budget resolution.
Despite Cao’s wobbly position on Obama’s agenda, his constituents appear to support it whole-heartedly. Not only did Cao’s district vote 75 percent in favor of Obama last November, but after Cao voted against the recovery package, several of his constituents initiated a recall campaign.
Obama’s budget offers significant benefits to the people of Louisiana. The Center for American Progress Action Fund found that approximately 1.5 million Louisiana families would benefit directly from Obama’s proposal to extend the Making Work Pay tax cut. As Cao himself noted, Obama’s proposal also includes one billion dollars for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Voucher Program and Affordable Housing Trust Fund, a portion of which will go to his most needy constituents.
Finally, because a significant number of his constituents live in New Orleans, Cao should consider the fact that Obama’s budget includes money to continue and accelerate recovery from Hurricane Katrina. The question now is whether or not Cao can begin to put the long-term interests of his constituents before his own short-term interests within the House Republican Caucus.
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.
Earlier 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.”
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.
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.’”
In 2008, Anh “Joseph” Cao became the only non-Hispanic minority in the GOP. With the party struggling to shed its all-white image, the Republican leadership quickly embraced the first Vietnamese member of Congress. In a memo called “The Time Is Cao,” House Minority Leader John Boehner told his colleagues that Cao is the “future” of the GOP:
“The Future is Cao” reads the subject line of Boehner’s memo. “As House Republicans look ahead to the next two years, the Cao victory is a symbol of what can be achieved when we think big, present a positive alternative, and work aggressively to earn the trust of the American people,” offers Boehner.
But today, Cao said that he will defy his GOP colleagues, who unanimously opposed the House recovery package, and will support the final stimulus bill:
“Even though it is going to be a humongous bill, even though we will be in debt for years, I believe that more likely than not, I will vote for it because the 2nd Congressional District needs a stimulus package.” … “A lot of the provisions in the bill will be good for the district, because we need almost everything,” he said. “You name it, we need it.”
Cao added: “I’m voting along what my conscience dictates and the needs of the 2nd Congressional District dictate, even if I were to be the only member of the GOP to vote for the stimulus package.”
Throughout the debate over the recovery package, it has become painfully clear that Rush Limbaugh, who wants Obama to “fail,” is the new “unofficial leader” of the GOP — as his “prominence and political import” has skyrocketed in recent weeks. In fact, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) said he is happy to be a hard-right party, saying, “What transpired…and will give us a shot in the arm going forward is that we are standing up on principle and just saying no.” “We’re beginning to find our voice,” said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Earlier this week, the Times-Picayune profiled the district’s new congressman Joseph Cao (R-LA), who beat out the indicted Democratic incumbent William Jefferson. As the first Vietnamese-American in Congress — and the only non-Hispanic minority in the GOP caucus — Cao is generating considerable excitement within his party for being able to capture a Democratic district.
Before his victory, almost no Republicans were paying attention to Cao. None of the Republicans in Louisiana’s congressional delegation donated to his race. “They just ignored me,” said Cao. “The message was, ‘Why waste our time?’”
Now, however, he is a conservative hero. On Sunday, House Minority Leader John Boehner issued a memo titled, “The future is Cao.” Boehner wrote that the “Cao victory is a symbol of what can be achieved when we think big, present a positive alternative and win the trust of the American people.” Even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has offered his services. According to a Times-Picayune report earlier this week, Gingrich has volunteered to be Cao’s liaison to the African-American community:
By midmorning Cao was interrupting an interview to take a call from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who offered good wishes and, Cao said, counseled him “to reach out to the African-American community.” Cao said Gingrich offered to act as a go-between.
ThinkProgress spoke with Cao’s spokesman Murray Nelson, who wouldn’t confirm or deny the Times-Picayune report or the extent of Gingrich’s involvement. Nelson stressed that he personally has “great respect” for the former Speaker but said that it wasn’t necessary for Gingrich to “show” them how to do minority outreach, since they had been doing it for some time:
Although it’s very nice and we appreciate and continue to work with the former Speaker in that regard, we already are reaching out to the African-American community. We’ve already attended an NAACP organizational meeting. We went to a Christmas party last night and had the best time. [...]
Within the district, we have plenty of people we partner with and work with to get into the community. … It’s not like the Speaker would be coming down here to show us how to do it. He’s done it.
ThinkProgress contacted Gingrich’s spokesman for a response, but we did not receive an answer.