TPM News

Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA), the lone GOP vote for the House health reform bill that passed late last night, has responded to RNC Chairman Michael Steele's warnings about stepping outside of party lines. (WATCH Steele: "We'll come after you.")

Cao told CNN that Steele retains "the right to come after those members who do not conform to party lines, but I would hope that he would work with us in order to adjust to the needs of the district and to hold a seat that the Republican party would need." He represents the second congressional district of Louisiana, a solidly Democratic district that includes New Orleans. Cao said earlier today that he put the needs of his district over what was popular with his own party.

Cao's opponent was former Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), who was under indictment on corruption charges at the time of the election, widely seen as the sole reason the Republican was able to triumph in this specific district. His unique victory was celebrated by Steele and other GOP leaders, a fact which the young lawmaker is not letting party leadership soon forget.

Read More →

President Obama today said "millions of Americans whose lives will change" when health care reform finally becomes law are grateful to the House for passing a sweeping overhaul bill late last night.

"Given the heated and often misleading rhetoric," Obama said during a brief statement in the Rose Garden, he wanted to recognize the "courageous vote" and add his own gratitude to the House "for taking us this far."

Obama, who spent the night at the Camp David presidential retreat, said he'd called a Montana woman this morning to thank her for telling him about her health care struggle, telling her that the bill pass in part because of her willingness to share her story.

He lauded "extraordinary activism" of those fighting for health care, as his campaign arm Organizing for America put together thank-you welcoming parties for supportive lawmakers as they arrived at their home airports today.

Read More →

Cao: Health Care Vote Was Proper Decision For My District Appearing on State of the Union, Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) explained his vote for the House health care bill. "I felt last night's decision was the proper decision for my district even though it was not the popular decision for my party," said Cao, also adding: "A lot of my constituents are uninsured, a lot of them are poor. It was the right decision for the people of my district."

Graham: House Health Care Bill 'Dead On Arrival' In Senate Appearing on Face The Nation, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) predicted that the health care bill just passed by the House will be "dead on arrival" in the Senate. Graham added: "I just think the construct out of the House and what exists in the Senate is not going to pass, and I hope and pray it doesn't because it would be a disaster for the economy and health care."

Read More →

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine released the following statement late Saturday night following the passage of the House Democrats' health care reform bill. Here's the full text:

Read More →

So who is Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA), the one Republican who voted yes on the House Democrats' health care bill?

Cao was first elected to Congress in 2008 from the solidly-Democratic New Orleans district, winning a shocking victory against Democratic Rep. William Jefferson, who was then under indictment (and was later convicted) on corruption charges. Over the course of his life, he was a child refugee from Vietnam, a former Jesuit seminarian, and an attorney.

Cao's district voted 75%-23% for Barack Obama in 2008, but Cao was able to beat Jefferson in a December election (held at that time because of the rescheduling of some Louisiana Congressional elections, due to a hurricane). Cao had held out on voting for this bill -- he is strongly pro-life and wanted full assurances that abortion would not be funded -- but his vote for final passage, after the passage of the Stupak Amendment, could give him a positive card to play with his Democratic constituents.

Ironically, right after Cao was elected, the House GOP boasted of his upset win as a sign of the GOP's comeback, and that he presented a path to future victories. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) declared: "The Future Is Cao."

President Obama released the following statement Saturday night following the passage of the House Democrats' health care reform bill. Read full coverage of the bill's passage here.

Tonight, in an historic vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would finally make real the promise of quality, affordable health care for the American people.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act is a piece of legislation that will provide stability and security for Americans who have insurance; quality affordable options for those who don't; and bring down the cost of health care for families, businesses, and the government while strengthening the financial health of Medicare. And it is legislation that is fully paid for and will reduce our long-term federal deficit.

Thanks to the hard work of the House, we are just two steps away from achieving health insurance reform in America. Now the United States Senate must follow suit and pass its version of the legislation. I am absolutely confident it will, and I look forward to signing comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill calling for comprehensive reforms to the American health care system and universal insurance coverage, marking a major milestone in the battle for health care reform.

It's the first time in the nation's history a chamber of Congress has gotten this far as the House passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act by a vote of 220-215.

The vote came after President Obama made a last-minute appeal to his party during the House Democratic Caucus, asking them to "answer the call" of history.

Democrat after Democrat cited history on the House floor during the rare Saturday session, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) saying generations of Americans have wanted health care reform.

"Today the call will be answered," Pelosi said, citing the late Sen. Teddy Kennedy who called health care reform the "great unfinished business of our society."

Earlier in the day, lawmakers were getting Pelosi's signature on their copies of the bill.

All but one of the Republicans opposed the bill after a day of debate, joining 39 Democrats who voted 'No.' Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) was the only Republican to vote for it.

Read More →

The GOP alternative to the House Dems' health reform bill, or the Boehner alternative, failed in a 258-176 vote. One Republican -- Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL) -- actually voted against the amendment.

Earlier this week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its evaluation of the bill. The judgment was that the alternative insured almost nobody. Read the full report here.

The amendment introduced by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) to the House Democrats' health care bill passed Saturday night in a 240-194 vote. No Republicans voted against the amendment, though Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) voted "present" as a means of protest against the general bill up for debate.

The amendment "explicitly bars federal subsidies from going to plans that cover abortion," The Hill reports. Rep. Jane Schakowsky (D-IL) took a public lead in fighting it, telling C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" about Democratic efforts to organize against the amendment.

Read the text of the amendment here. See the roll call of the vote here.