New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he doesn’t know why House Speaker John Boehner didn’t allow a vote on a $60 billion aid package to help Superstorm Sandy victims Tuesday or Wednesday, but he’s steamed about it.
“There’s only one group to blame for the continued suffering” of Sandy victims, and that’s Boehner and the House Republican leadership, Christie told reporters Wednesday afternoon.
“Shame on on you. Shame on Congress,” Christie, a Republican, said.
Christie is just one of many New Jersey and New York politicians upset that the House did not consider the aid proposal on the final two full days of the 112th Congress. A new Congress will be sworn in on Thursday. The Senate had passed a bill that would have provided billions of dollars in aid to victims, but the process will begin anew with the new Congress.
Sandy killed at least 113 people in the U.S. and left millions of people without power after running up the East Coast in late October. The storm hit hardest in New York and New Jersey.
Christie said he was given assurances that the House would consider the package after it dealt with the fiscal cliff deal that it passed Tuesday night. But late Tuesday, he said, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told him that the “authority for the (Sandy) vote was pulled by the speaker.”
Christie said he then “called the speaker four times last night, and he didn’t take my calls.”
“Every day that we don’t begin to get this aid are days that we can’t get people back in (their) homes, get businesses reopened. ... It’s absolutely disgraceful,” Christie said.
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, told reporters off the House floor late Tuesday that “leadership was all-consumed with the cliff procedure ... and they really have not had the time to devote to this because of that.”
Up until Tuesday night, GOP leaders were working toward a plan of splitting up the vote into two measures: one providing $27 billion for immediate needs and another amendment offering $33 billion for longer-term recovery efforts.
Rogers said he was ready to move his scaled-back bill but did not give a timetable for the vote in the next Congress.
“FEMA has plenty of money, there’s no immediate needs,” he said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
U.S. Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican who also is upset that the House didn’t vote on the package, told CNN Wedensday that Rogers “doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
“The FEMA money is not going to rebuild businesses, that’s not going to provide food and shelter, and it’s not going to reimburse the local governments,” he said.