By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
Gov. Chris Christie began his remarks by noting how quickly the Congress approved a relief package after other hurricanes and disasters.
“Thirty-one days for Andrew victims, 17 days for victims of Gustav and Ike, 10 days for victims of Katrina. For the victims of Sandy in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, it has been 66 days and the wait continues,” Christie said. “There’s only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims — the House majority and their speaker John Boehner.”
His written statement went on to say it didn’t used to matter whether the hard-hit region was Democrat or Republican.
“Last night politics was placed before our oath to serve our citizens,” Christie said. “For me it was disappointing and disgusting to watch.”
He said he thinks the $60 billion Sandy relief package would have passed the House last night if the Speaker had allowed a vote. It got 62 votes in the Senate but fell victim to what Christie called “palace intrigue” and internal politics.
“New Jerseyans and New Yorkers are tired of being treated like second-class citizens,” he said.
Christie said he had been assured the bill would be posted and now feels betrayed.
He praised Eric Cantor and Bob Menendez for trying to get a vote. He wouldn’t speculate on why Boehner blocked it, just calling the whole spectacle “disgraceful.”
“This used to be something that was not political. Disaster relief was something that you didn’t play games with. But now in this current atmosphere, everything is the subject of one-upmanship, everything a potential piece of bait for the political game,” Christie said. “It is why the American people hate Congress.”
After four unsuccessful attempts to reach Boehner by phone late last night, Christie said, he reached him today but got no credible assurances on when a vote might take place. After Christie spoke, Boehner promised to hold a vote Friday on $9 billion in immediate disaster aid and another vote Jan. 15 on $51 billion in aid.
“I’m not gonna get into the specifics of what I discussed with John Boehner today, but what I will tell you is there is no reason for me at the moment to believe anything they tell me,” he said.
Christie said he spoke to more than 30 members of Congress by phone in recent days to lobby for the relief package before this Congress expires tomorrow. He said President Obama called him this morning and pledged his support for getting it through the next Congress.