At least one Republican may vote for the Democratic health care bill, several House sources confirmed on Saturday night.
Rep. Anh “Joseph— Cao (R-La.), a former Jesuit seminarian, is rumored to be on the fence if the House approves the amendment authored by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) that would prevent federal funding for abortions.
Cao was originally expected to vote “no— on the bill along with the rest of his colleagues because it didn’t explicitly ban funding for abortion.
But since Democrats agreed to allow a vote on the Stupak amendment, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gave their blessing on the Democratic health care bill provided the amendment is accepted — the vote became even tougher for the freshman Republican.
Sensing that Cao might provide Democrats with a Republican vote, the White House has been in constant contact with Cao, according to a House aide.
“Rahm is going all in to get him,— the aide said, referring to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
Cao’s defection would ruin Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) pledge for a unanimous GOP vote against the Democratic health care bill.
Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for Cantor said, “Cantor is working overtime and committed to ensure GOP unity.—
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.
His district voted 75 percent for President Barack Obama, making him one of the most vulnerable members of the House Republican Conference.
The White House has been courting Cao’s vote for months.
In August, Cao told a town hall meeting that he was “leaning— toward supporting the Democratic health care reform plan but said it must include strong provisions to prevent the federal funding of abortions, the Times-Picayune reported.
Cao’s office could not be reached for comment.