New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is none too pleased with the failure of the House of Representatives to pass a Hurricane Sandy relief bill and he's not afraid to name names. "There's only one group to blame," said Christie in a speech this afternoon, "the House Majority and their speaker John Boehner." The livid Republican governor continued: "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 began his more-than-typically impassioned speech by ticking off the damage done by Hurricane Sandy and the response times — some with Republican presidents at the helm — for comparable storms: 31 days for Hurricane Andrew victims; 17 days for Gustav and Ike; 10 days for victims of Hurricane Katrina. "For the victims of sandy there's been 66 days and the wait continues," he said.
"It was disappointing and disgusting to watch," said Christie of last night's decision not to bring the bill to a vote in the House. "In our hour of desperate need we have been left waiting for help six times longer than victims of Hurricane Katrina with no end in sight." For that, he nailed a Congress that "places oneupsmanship above the lives of the citizens who sent them to Washington, D.C. in the first place."
"Americans are tired of the palace intrigue and political partisanship of this Congress," he continued, adding later, "It is why the American people hate Congress."
"I was given no explanation," Christie said when asked if the timing had to do with the vote on the fiscal cliff. "I was called at 11:20 last night and told that authority for the vote was pulled by the Speaker." The governor credited Republican Eric Cantor with "working as hard as he could to get this done for us," and added, "This was the Speaker's decision — his alone."
As for precisely why the House could not arrange a vote for the aid package already passed by Congress, "I called the speaker four times after 11:20 and he would not take my calls," Christie lamented. "So you'll have to ask the speaker."
Christie praised the bipartisan work of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, President Barack Obama, and those "good people" in Congress who came together to try to get the bill passed before it dies tomorrow at noon. "Unlike people in Congress," he quipped, "[Cuomo and I] have actual responsibilities."
"Sixty-six days and counting," Christie said at the conclusion of his speech. "Shame on you. Shame on Congress."
Watch the entire barnburner here:
Update: Republican Rep. Peter King said this afternoon that the House will vote on small pieces of Sandy aid beginning Friday, Reuters reports. According to King, Boehner has promised a vote later this week on $9 billion in funding for the federal flood insurance program, which could be out of money by January 7. The remaining $51 billion in aid will be put to a vote on January 15, King said.
Earlier on Fox News, the New York representative went on a sub-Christie but still effective rant: "These Republicans have no problem finding New York when they're out raising millions of dollars, they come to New York all the time filling their pockets with money from New Yorkers," he groused. "I'm saying right now: anyone from New York and New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their mind because what they did last night to put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans was an absolute disgrace."
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm on my own," King continued. "They're going to have to go a long way to get my vote on anything."