|Birth Day:||March 13, 1967|
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He emigrated to the United States with his uncle and two of his siblings when he was eight. He studied physics at Baylor University and got his Master's in philosophy at Fordham University and J.D. from Loyola University School of Law.
Ánh Quang Cao was born in South Vietnam in 1967. His father, My Quang Cao (1930–2010), was a lieutenant in the South Vietnamese Army. He was captured by the North Vietnamese Army in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War. His mother, Khang Thi Tran (born 1935), did not immediately flee South Vietnam, but sent Anh Cao and two siblings to escape with their uncle. She stayed in the country with five of Cao's siblings. She was allowed to visit her husband only five times during the seven years he was imprisoned in a Communist "re-education camp".
In 1975 Anh Cao was eight years old when his uncle and siblings arrived as refugees in the United States, where they were resettled in Houston, Texas. After being released in 1982 from prison camp, Cao's father joined his family in Houston. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and diabetes.
Cao was thought to face nearly impossible odds for reelection due to the district's overwhelmingly Democratic nature. Indeed, many pundits likened him to Michael Patrick Flanagan, a former Republican congressman from Illinois. Flanagan ousted scandal-plagued House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dan Rostenkowski in 1994, only to be roundly defeated for reelection after one term in his heavily Democratic Chicago-based district by future Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Cao is married to Hieu Phuong "Kate" Hoang. The couple has two daughters and resides in New Orleans' Venetian Isles neighborhood. Kate and Joseph met in 1998 at the Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church in New Orleans East and the family has attended there since. After the 2008 election, Kate, an alumna of the Xavier University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy and a registered pharmacist, resigned from her position at a New Orleans Walgreens pharmacy.
Cao and his family were raised as Roman Catholics. He studied for several years after college to become a priest. He attended public schools and graduated from Jersey Village High School in Houston. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He studied as a Jesuit seminarian for six years, but withdrew when he concluded that the ministry was not his calling. He earned a Master of Arts in philosophy from Fordham University in New York City, and in 2000 his J.D. from Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans. While in law school, Cao also taught undergraduate courses in philosophy at Loyola.
Before the recall petition, a separate petition had been started to recall New Orleans City Councilwoman Stacy Head, who is white but represents a predominantly black constituency after defeating Jefferson protégé Renée Gill Pratt in 2006. Head, a Democrat, supported Cao in the election on December 6, 2008. James Gill defended Head's support for Cao (who is not white but Asian) and asserted it was based not on race but that "Jefferson ... is morally unfit for any public office." The petition to recall Head failed to meet its statutory deadline.
Incumbent U.S. Representative William J. Jefferson won the Democratic primaries in 2008. Jefferson had weathered a major challenge in the Louisiana 2nd congressional district election, 2006, overcoming allegations that he had inappropriately used members of a Louisiana Army National Guard unit to reach his home during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
In 2008 Jefferson also faced federal charges of bribery involving Nigerian business interests and was perceived as vulnerable, with only 25 percent of Democrats voting for him in the Democratic primary. Jefferson faced six African-American challengers, along with newscaster Helena Moreno. In a runoff primary, Jefferson defeated Moreno by 57 percent to 43 percent in a vote largely along racial lines. Unopposed for the Republican nomination, Cao ran against Jefferson, as did Green Party candidate Malik Rahim and Libertarian Party candidate Gregory Kahn. An earlier candidate, independent Jerry Jacobs, had withdrawn.
After speaking by telephone four days after the election, on December 31, 2008, Wednesday, Jefferson and Cao met cordially at the home of New Orleans' Liberty Bank CEO Alden McDonald to discuss the transition.
Cao was sworn into office on January 6, 2009, with his family and a group of Vietnamese-Americans in attendance. After the swearing-in by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Jefferson Parish Judge Robert Murphy re-administered the oath in Cao's new office.
Despite the tardiness of the election date, Cao rapidly set up his office and staff and gained committee assignments for the 111th Congress. On March 24, 2009, 11 weeks to the day after he was sworn in as a new member, Cao delivered his first speech on the House floor: his statement supported a bill by California Democrat Linda Sánchez to express congressional support of Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. In the speech, which was broadcast on C-SPAN, Cao said, of Vietnam War veterans, "I am pleased that I, a direct beneficiary of their service, can take part ... in this historic event." The bill passed. Cao's speech had been written by his Legislative Director, A. Brooke Bennett.
Cao was invited to a White House reception on April 23, 2009. He presented President Obama with a letter requesting $490 million for post-Katrina restoration of New Orleans' Charity Hospital. (FEMA had offered $150 million). Cao also spoke with Vice President Joe Biden regarding the recovery of New Orleans.
According to a 2011 survey by the National Journal, Cao was the most liberal Republican in the House. In 2009, he was one of seven Republicans who voted to publicly rebuke Representative Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, for his outburst of "You lie!" against President Obama during an address before a joint session of Congress.
In April 2009, Cao's district staff moved into what was described as the first office in Kenner for a sitting congressman. The office was formerly a storeroom in Kenner's Community Services Department at 624 Williams Boulevard (LA 49).
Among the bills which came to the floor during Cao's first days in Congress, Cao voted against the Obama Administration's stimulus package. Cao justified his votes on expressed dissatisfaction that his 2nd congressional district of Louisiana ranked dead last among the 435 congressional districts in outlays provided by the legislation even though the district was one of the most seriously damaged by hurricanes. Cao's vote provoked a petition to recall him, which formally began on February 16, 2009. Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne and other Louisiana officials, as well as congressional analysts, perceived it as having little or no prospect of succeeding. Although the petition collected more than 13,000 signatures on the first day, it needed more than 100,000 within 180 days to fulfill Louisiana requirements. Congress has never removed, and has no constitutional provision to do, a member based on constituents' recall. Several leaders of the recall campaign, specifically the Reverends Samuel Butler and Toris Young, claimed to have been supporters of Cao, though Cao and his campaign manager Bryan Wagner, a former member of the New Orleans City Council, said they had never met them. After Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell issued an opinion that the state cannot recall federal officials, Butler and Young announced that they would pursue the matter in the federal courts. Young's ability to criticize Cao was mocked by Times-Picayune columnist James Gill because of Young's 11 convictions for fraud and identity theft.
On March 1, 2009, the Times-Picayune reported that Obama had tried to reach Cao on his cellphone prior to the vote on the stimulus package but was unsuccessful; Cao acknowledged that Obama "might have been persuasive" with a "concrete commitment" to help the 2nd district and New Orleans. Cao stated that the Obama administration's $410 billion omnibus spending bill for the final 7 months of Fiscal Year 2009 (ending September 30, 2009) "would provide important benefits for his 2nd Congressional District" and became one of 16 Republicans voting in favor of that bill.
On February 25, 2009, Cao grabbed headlines by announcing that his staff members were investigating the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) office in New Orleans. Cao, whose aversive relationship with the agency had started during his time as a community activist for victims of Hurricane Katrina, accused FEMA of a host of malfeasance charges, including "widespread complaints of discrimination, sexual harassment, ethics violations, nepotism and cronyism." Cao conveyed his concerns to the Obama administration's Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who promised that "we will obviously follow up." The next day Cao's call for the resignation of Doug Whitmer, head of FEMA's New Orleans office, was bolstered by United States Senator Mary Landrieu, whereupon the story spread on CBS News. Popular reaction quickly pervaded New Orleans blogsites, one of them calling its discussion FEMA having a Cao. On February 27, 2009, acting FEMA Director Nancy L. Ward replaced Whitmer with Tony Russell, previously an administrator in FEMA's Denver office. Ward stripped Jim Stark of his immediate responsibilities for Louisiana's FEMA district, leaving him as FEMA assistant administrator for Gulf Coast recovery. Cao had also been critical of John Connolly, FEMA chief for Gulf Coast public assistance, whom Stark cited as his source of information on "how much public-assistance money FEMA should approve for local projects" (in a congressional hearing with Cao on February 25, 2009). Connolly was previously with FEMA's Philadelphia office, and Cao asked rhetorically, "How many times has Philadelphia been hit by a hurricane?" On March 5, 2009, Cao joined Napolitano, Jindal, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu, U.S. Representative Charlie Melancon, and other federal, state, and local officials on a tour of damaged areas in New Orleans, including the campus of Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO), where the group was led by SUNO President Victor Ukpolo. Eleven days later, on March 16, Cao again visited the SUNO campus, pledging full support of Ukpolo's mission to rebuild the campus. The seguing event on Cao's agenda during the same day was a fund-raising cocktail party at the home of bankers Stephen and Dana Hansel at which the admission contribution was $1000 a person and an unexpected guest was former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich who was en route to lead a discussion in James Carville's political science class at Tulane University. The Times-Picayune, in an editorial on March 19, 2009, praised Ukpolo and Cao in their efforts to secure funding for restoration of SUNO's campus.
Cao was the only Republican to vote for the draft Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) on November 7, 2009. Yet Cao, because of concerns of alleged public funding for elective abortion provisions, joined the rest of his party in opposing the final version, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Cao is more fiscally conservative. He voted against President Obama's proposed stimulus package in 2009. He also voted against the Democratic-backed Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
In June 2010, Cao was one of only two Republicans to vote in favor of the DISCLOSE Act, intended to limit spending on political campaigns by corporations in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The bill requires added disclosure for political spending by corporations and prohibits some corporate political spending.
In December 2010, Cao was one of fifteen Republican House members to vote in favor of repealing the United States military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on openly gay service members.
In January 2010, Cao partnered with Democratic Congressman Russ Carnahan of Missouri to create the American Engagement Caucus, its stated purpose being the promotion of a multilateral foreign policy in which the United States works closely with other countries to address global problems. As a joint editorial between the two congressmen stated, "We live in an age of interdependence. America's security, economic, environmental, and moral interests are inextricably linked with those of the international community. Simply put, it is in our vital national interest to support international engagement.".
As expected, Cao lost his reelection bid in a landslide to Democratic State Representative Cedric Richmond, an African American. Other candidates included Independents Ron Austin, Anthony K. Marquize, and Jack Radosta. Cao had the support of several of New Orleans' prominent Democrats, including Councilwoman Stacy Head, Assessor Erroll Williams, and State Representative Juan LaFonta (who had lost the Democratic Party's nomination to Richmond), but the vote fell on racial lines. He was one of only two Republican House incumbents to lose reelection in 2010. The other was Charles Djou of Hawaii, who also represented a strongly Democratic-leaning district.
Representative Joseph Cao is a moderate Republican. He is "a grassroots activist and social progressive who believes in immigration reform, gay rights, and government services for the poor, who is also an adamantly pro-life Catholic that allied himself with the Republican Party". "He says he considers himself a moderate, fiscally conservative Republican." The non-partisan National Journal gave him a composite score of 57% conservative and 43% liberal in 2010. The American Conservative Union, a political action committee or PAC, gave Cao a lifetime score of 42% conservative. Americans for Democratic Action, a progressive PAC, gave him a 45% liberal quotient.
Cao was one of five House Republicans who voted with Democrats to repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell in May 2010. He was one of 15 Republicans who joined Democrats and voted in favor of the final repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell in December, 2010.
Proving just how Democratic the 2nd district still is, the Republicans only fielded nominal candidates in the district in 2012, and no Republican candidate even filed in 2014, 2016 or 2018.
On January 3, 2013, the Public Broadcasting Service aired the documentary Mr. Cao Goes to Washington, directed by S. Leo Chiang. The film tracks Cao's brief tenure in Washington, D.C., as the first Vietnamese American elected to Congress.
Joseph had two daughters with his wife, Hieu Hoang.
Currently, Joseph Cao is 56 years, 2 months and 24 days old. Joseph Cao will celebrate 57th birthday on a Wednesday 13th of March 2024. Below we countdown to Joseph Cao upcoming birthday.