Despite voting against the Economic Recovery Act, Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) is now working to bring Recovery Act money into his district. Last week, the Times-Picayune reported that Cao has been meeting with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to apply to “use stimulus money for additional streetcar expansions and road repairs.” Cao boasted that he is now working to “channel” the money that he opposed to his district:
“Whenever I meet with the mayor it goes extremely well,” Cao said. “Our focus has always been and is today about the recovery issues of the 2nd District. We are trying to look at federal monies that the state has and channeling more of that money to the district.”
Earlier this year, Cao indicated that he would vote for the Economic Recovery Act. “I will vote for it because the 2nd Congressional District needs a stimulus package,” Cao told local reporters at the time. Of course, Cao ultimately joined every single other House Republican in opposing the Recovery Act.
A review of FEC records reveals that the Republican leadership has rewarded Cao for his willingness to tow the party line:
— After voting against the Recovery Act on January 28, House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner’s (R-OH) PAC gave Cao a check for $5,000 two days later. [FEC, accessed 8/3/09]
— Cao indicated that he was considering voting in favor of clean energy economy legislation Waxman-Markey. However when it came to the House floor for a vote on June 26, Cao voted against it. Four days later, Boehner handed Cao $2,000. [FEC, accessed 8/3/09]
The GOP’s arm-twisting of Cao has also included regular phone calls from Republican Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA). On the day of the stimulus vote, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the Republican deputy whip, “stood near Cao during the entire vote.”
The political game for Cao has become predictable: pretend to support progressive legislation, then vote with the right-wing against the bill. For the stimulus, the budget, and climate change legislation, Cao postured like a moderate, then bowed to pressure and voted as a conservative. At least with the stimulus, Cao’s work “channeling” the money for his district is an acknowledgment that he was wrong to vote against it.