Republican votes for House Dems' health bill

Both sides lobbied hard to win over Louisiana Rep. Joseph Cao, but he ultimately crossed the aisle

Published November 8, 2009 2:19AM (EST)

House Republicans have been remarkably unified this year, sticking together on all of the big votes and ensuring that Democrats don't have any bipartisan cover whatsoever. But when the House votes on the Democrats' healthcare reform bill Saturday night, things could be different.

Multiple outlets are reporting that both sides of the aisle are lobbying aggresively to win over Rep. Joseph Cao, R-La. Cao has reportedly told colleagues he's undecided, and the White House is getting involved in the fight for his vote as a result. According to ABC News, even White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has spoken with Cao.

Cao is in a unique position, because he's a first-term congressman who represents a heavily Democratic district. As a result, he'll have a hard time getting reelected as it is, and though the GOP base would undoubtedly rise up against him, Cao can use a little bipartisan credibility with the Democrats in his district. The only reason he was able to win election in the virst place is because he was running against Rep. William Jefferson, who was under indictment on federal corruption charges at the time of the vote; Jefferson has since been convicted on a majority of the counts against him.

Update: Whether due to Emanuel's infamous gift for arm-twisting, his district's blueness or something else, the Democrats won over Cao. He crossed the aisle to provide the bill with its 220th "aye."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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