Christie Blasts Boehner on Sandy Bill: "Shame on Congress"
Boehner relents, schedules vote for part of Sandy recovery bill on Friday
Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., joined a growing chorus of Republican and Democratic lawmakers decrying House GOP leadership for stalling on a Sandy recovery bill, publicly shaming Congress in a press conference today and specifically targeting House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, for his role in scuttling action on the disaster relief.
"There's only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: The House majority and their speaker John Boehner," Christie told reporters. "Last night, my party was responsible for this."
The House was expected to vote last night on a $60.4 billion package that would have provided disaster aid to states hit by superstorm Sandy more than two months ago. The Senate passed a similar measure last week, and according to Christie, he was receiving "assurances" that the bill would "get done" as late as 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday night, Jan. 1. Ultimately, however, Boehner decided not to take up the bill for a vote, and Christie said he was informed of the decision just minutes before midnight Tuesday night.
"I was called at 11:20 last night by Leader [Eric] Cantor and told that authority for the vote was pulled by the speaker," Christie said Wednesday. He said Boehner not only refused to meet with the New Jersey delegation, but also ignored his own phone calls.
"I called the speaker four times. He did not take my calls," he said. "All I can tell you was this was the speaker's decision -- his alone."
According to a Republican leadership aide, the bill was not taken up in part because timing was bad in light of the recent fiscal cliff showdown, which resulted in a deal many Republicans opposed. The aide cited assurances from FEMA that there are sufficient disaster response funds to last through March, and Boehner told New York and New Jersey members that the disaster relief package will be his number one priority in the new Congress and will happen within the month.
Christie, who did speak to Boehner this morning, said he had been given no "credible" reason for the holdup, and had "no reason for me to believe anything they tell me, because they've been telling me stuff for weeks, and they didn't deliver." Even while distancing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., from his critiques somewhat, the famously outspoken Republican governor expressed disgust and disappointment with the "know-nothings" in Congress who held the bill up.
"Last night politics was placed before our oaths to serve our citizens. For me it was disappointing and disgusting to watch," he said. "If the people of New Jersey feel betrayed today by those who did this in the House last night, then they have good company. I'm with them."