A furious New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie unloaded on House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday following the cancellation of a promised vote for Hurricane Sandy relief, saying the people of his state were “played last night as a pawn” by his own Republican Party.
“There is only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims,” Christie said after the 11th-hour decision to scrap the vote. “The House majority and their speaker, John Boehner. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. National disasters happen in red states and blue states and states with Democratic governors and Republican governors. We respond to innocent victims of natural disasters not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans. Or at least we did until last night.”
Christie said he had been given personal assurance that the $60 billion aid bill would go before the House on Tuesday. The Senate passed the measure last week. With Congress’ term coming to a close on Thursday, members will have to start from scratch to help the hundreds of thousands affected by the megastorm.
“Last night, the House majority failed the most basic test of leadership and they did so with callous disregard to the people of my state,” Christie said. “Our people were played last night as a pawn. That’s why people hate Washington.”
Christie said he has yet to be given a “substantive, credible reason” for why the bill wasn’t put to a vote. He said he tried to reach Boehner four times Tuesday night to find out what happened, but “he did not take my calls.”
“Sixty-six days and counting [since Sandy],” Christie said. “Shame on you. Shame on Congress.”
Christie’s criticisms echoed those of Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who said earlier on Wednesday that New Yorkers shouldn’t give a penny to House Republicans after Tuesday’s “knife in the back.”
[T]he Sandy “relief” bill is really a Sandy “recovery” bill. It’s about the size and shape of the second wave of Sandy spending, which can and should be much more deliberate than the the first wave. The first wave of Sandy spending is already happening. Is it happening quickly or efficiently enough? There is no such thing as quickly or efficiently enough for the people of Staten Island or Seaside Heights, but it’s nevertheless safe to assume that if you think private charities and emergency responders aren’t allocating efficiently, you’re probably going to be disappointed by Congress, too. In fact, according to an analysis released by Sens. Coburn and McCain, “64 percent of the $60.4 billion in ‘emergency’ spending in this legislation will not be spent for nearly two years.
And among some of the provisions in the Senate-passed bill:
•$2 million to repair damage to the roofs of museums in Washington, D.C., while many in Hurricane Sandy’s path still have no roof over their own heads.
•$150 million for fisheries as far away from the storm’s path as Alaska.
•$125 million for the Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Watershed Protection program, which helps restore watersheds damaged by wildfires and drought.
•$20 million for a nationwide Water Resources Priorities Study.
•$15 million for NASA facilities, though NASA itself has called its damage from the hurricane ‘minimal.’
•$50 million in subsidies for tree planting on private properties.
This post has been updated.