(WASHINGTON) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday that it was “disgusting” that the House adjourned without voting on a $60 billion relief package for the victims of superstorm Sandy and put the blame squarely on a fellow Republican — House Speaker John Boehner.
Christie, who is considered a possible Republican presidential candidate four years from now, said there was “only one group to blame, the Republican Party and Speaker Boehner.”
The blunt talking New Jersey governor joined a chorus of Republicans from New York and New Jersey fuming over Boehner’s decision to pull the bill at the last minute.
Christie in a news conference decried the “selfishness and duplicity,” and “the callous indifference to the people of our state.”
“Unfortunately people are putting politics ahead of their responsibilities… You do the right thing. Enough with all the politics,” he said.
Christie said that when it comes to natural disasters, “We respond as Americans, at least we did until last night… it was disgusting to watch.”
“In our hour of desperate need, we’ve been left waiting for help six times longer than the victims of Katrina with no end in sight,” said Christie. “Sixty-six days and counting, shame on you. Shame on Congress.”
The governor said his four calls to Boehner Tuesday night went unanswered, but he said he spoke to the House speaker Wednesday. Christie would not disclose any details of the conversation.
He said that Boehner told him that the speaker would meet with the New Jersey and New York delegations Wednesday about the bill.
Lawmakers were told by Boehner, R-Ohio, that the relief bill would get a vote on Tuesday night following an eleventh hour vote on the fiscal cliff bill. But in an unexpected switch, Boehner refused to put the relief bill to a vote, leading to lawmakers yelling on the floor of the House.
Congress historically has responded to natural disasters by promptly funding relief efforts. It took just 11 days to pass a relief package for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Senate already passed its version of the bill that would replenish an emergency fund set to run out of cash next week and which will help repair subways and tunnels in New York City and rebuild parts of the New Jersey shore devastated by superstorm Sandy.
Time is particularly pressing, given that a new Congress will be sworn in Thursday. The Senate will therefore have to vote on the bill again before it comes to the House, which could be as late as February or March.
October’s storm was the worst natural disaster ever to hit the region, causing billions in damage and leaving 120 people dead.
More than 130,000 people are expected to make claims to the federal government, but without a funding increase only about 12,000 people can be covered with existing funds.
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