Rep. Joseph Cao says that his greatest challenge in Congress came during the healthcare reform debate. As a moderate Republican, he was courted vigorously from both sides: conservatives and progressives from all across the country flooded his office with calls to encourage him to vote this way or that way.
Formerly on the track to the Jesuit priesthood and a devoutly religious man, Cao prayed constantly for guidance. The process leading to his votes included a grueling schedule of fourteen constituent town hall events.
“That’s the nature of this job. It’s a pressure cooker. It was to be anticipated,” he shrugs. In the end, Cao was the only Republican to support the original House version of the healthcare reform bill, although he later rejected the final Senate version of the bill. Interestingly, his decision to vote against the president’s final healthcare reform bill came in the Oval Office with President Obama himself, whom he considers a friend. “He said that he didn’t want me to vote against my conscience, that we have to live with ourselves. And that if we were to vote against our conscience, there would be nothing left to defend,” Cao recalls.
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