Gov. Christie joined a chorus of angry Republican and Democratic lawmakers in a press conference Wednesday afternoon attacking Speaker John Boehner’s decision to delay a vote on a Hurricane Sandy aid relief package.
The Republican N.J. governor aimed his criticism directly at Boehner, echoing comments made Wednesday morning by Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer.
“There is only one group to blame,” said Christie. “The House majority and their Speaker, John Boehner.”
Christie revealed that he learned the bill would be delayed late Tuesday night at 11:20 p.m., in a call not from Boehner, but House Leader Eric Cantor.
“I was given no explanation,” said Christie, adding that he made a total of four calls to Boehner Tuesday night, none of which were returned. “All I can tell you was this was the Speaker’s decision — his alone.”
Christie said he spoke with Boehner Wednesday morning, but refused to discuss specifics of the conversation.
In one of his most impassioned moments at the press conference, Christie issued a sharp attack on Congress.
“Shame on you, shame on Congress,” he said, adding later that lawmakers in D.C. are “so consumed with their own internal politics, that they forgot that they have a job to do.”
“This is not a Republican or Democratic issue,” he said. “We respond to innocent victims of natural disasters not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans — or at least we did until last night.”
Citing the aid response time following other natural disasters — 31 days for victims of Hurricane Andrew, and 10 days for Hurricane Katrina — the governor said the 66 days Sandy victims have waited are unacceptable.
“We’ve been left waiting for help six times longer than the victims of Katrina with no end in sight,” he said, hammering leaders in Washington for placing “one-upmanship ahead of the lives of these citizens.”
Christie aligned himself with his Democratic counterpart in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo. “Governor Cuomo and I are not wallflowers. We are not shrinking violets,” said Christie, promising to fight until the bill is passed.
Asked at the press conference whether Boehner had lost credibility with the governor, Christie said that “no one is beyond redemption.”
Update: In a joint statement released Wednesday afternoon, Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor promised to make the Sandy relief bill the “first priority” of the next Congress.
Getting critical aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy should be the first priority in the new Congress, and that was reaffirmed today with members of the New York and New Jersey delegations. The House will vote Friday to direct needed resources to the National Flood Insurance Program. And on January 15th, the first full legislative day of the 113th Congress, the House will consider the remaining supplemental request for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.