NEW ORLEANS—Congressman Anh "Joseph" Cao, the only Republican to vote for a Democrat-backed health care overhaul late last year, doesn't expect to do so again when the Senate version comes up for a vote this weekend.
"At this point, I'm pretty much a definite no," he told The Associated Press on Thursday evening.
Absent a late change of heart by Cao, the state's seven-member House delegation is expected to unanimously oppose the Senate version of the bill that will likely be voted on in the House this weekend.
Abortion remains a sticking point for Cao, a staunch opponent of legal abortion. In Washington, abortion opponents disagree on whether restrictions on taxpayer funding go far enough in the Senate bill. Cao, an attorney, said he has studied the Senate language and it doesn't go far enough to prohibit government funding of abortions.
Cao said he believes the House bill he voted for did a better job of addressing the cost of health care, as well as coverage. Absent the abortion controversy, Cao said he would "lean yes towards the Senate bill," even though he believes the House bill he voted for last year did a better job of addressing the cost of health care, as well as coverage.
Rep. Charlie Melancon of Napoleonville, the only Democrat in the delegation, broke with his party to vote no on the House bill and is on record in opposition to the Senate measure.
"I am opposing the Senate bill and the reconciliation package because they cost too much and don't do enough to lower health care costs for middle class families and small businesses," Melancon said in a statement Friday. Melancon is running for the Senate this year against incumbent Republican David Vitter, a staunch opponent of the bill.
Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette has been prominent among House members opposing the measure. Reps. Steve Scalise of Jefferson, Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge, Rodney Alexander of Quitman and John Fleming of Shreveport are all on the record against the bill.