House Democrats are wryly proclaiming their health care bill a bipartisan victory—and thanks goes to Ahn "Joseph" Cao, the New Orleans freshman who was the lone Republican to support the bill, reports the New York Times in a look at the man behind the vote. The new abortion restrictions and the needs of his district were paramount, he noted: “Tonight, I voted to keep taxpayer dollars from funding abortion and to deliver access to affordable health care to the people of Louisiana."
Cao, the first Vietnamese American in Congress and replacement for William Jefferson (he of the cash-stuffed freezer), decided to support the bill after speaking to President Obama about Louisiana's primary health care concerns, notably disparities in federal reimbursements for Medicare. While the House Republican minority has largely kept a united front, Cao earlier this year broke ranks to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program. Cao's choice may have political implications: His district is consistently seen as one of those most likely to ''go Democrat'' next year.