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Rep. Anh Joseph Cao (La.), the lone Republican Member to support the Democratic health care overhaul, insisted Monday that GOP leaders have not punished him for his vote and that they respect my decision.
My leadership has been very good to me, Cao said on MSNBC. They respect my decision even though it is something they might not agree with, but at the end of the day we are all professionals.
Cao, who represents an overwhelmingly Democratic district, added, They are very supportive of who I am and I think they are proud of the Republican Party.
[It] was a difficult decision, he said. But at this time we have the duty to provide all our people with the necessary medical coverage because it is an issue of life and death for many people in this country.
Cao said he hoped the Obama administration would look for offsets to cover some of the costs of the $1.2 trillion heath care reform package.
Both sides of the aisle heavily courted Caos vote, but in the end House Republicans could not persuade the freshman lawmaker to stand with the rest of the Republican Conference. The bill passed 220-215, with 176 Republicans voting no.
Cao defeated Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) in 2008 with 49.5 percent of the vote in an overwhelming Democratic district. Jefferson received 46.8 percent of the vote despite having been indicted on several federal corruption charges.
Caos district voted 75 percent for President Barack Obama in 2008.