First and foremost, screw Congress for delaying its vote on the proposed Hurricane Sandy relief bill. Secondly, and far from foremost, screw Congress for continuing to make New Jersey Governor Chris Christie universally admirable.
Past love or disdain for Christie aside, the governor has displayed guts and bold leadership in the aftermath of Sandy. Most politicians are going to say the right things in the wake of a difficult tragedy, but most wouldn’t throw political allegiances and grievances on the back burner in the manner that Christie has.
“Last night, my party was responsible for this,” Christie said at a news conference earlier this afternoon. “This used to be something that was not political. Disaster relief was something that you didn’t play games with, but now in this current atmosphere everything is the subject of one-upmanship. Everything is a possibility, a potential piece of bait for the political game.”
Sounds like it would be a no-brainer decision for politicians to put the interests of hundreds of thousands of people devastated by a hurricane before partisan politics. But that wasn’t the case for the House Republicans who delayed last night’s anticipated vote on a $60 billion Sandy relief package.
Christie got specific in his condemnation of those responsible for the delay and singled out House Speaker John Boehner as the chief engineer of the delay.
“It’s a matter of the speaker deciding when he wants to do this because this was his decision to stop it,” Christie said. “He’s the Speaker of the House. And tomorrow’s another day. So he can prove to me that he really does care about the people of New York and New Jersey by getting this package done.”
Christie said that he and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo received multiple reassurances that the bill would be passed by Congress Tuesday — reassurances that came as late as 9 p.m. last night.
After he found out a little after 11 p.m. that the package would not be passed, Christie said he attempted to call House Speaker Boehner four times for an explanation for the delay. And though he finally spoke to Boehner this morning, Christie said he still hasn’t received a clear answer.
Reporters attempted to coax Christie into speculating about what role last night’s “fiscal cliff” deal played in the move to delay the Sandy relief vote. And though Christie declined to play “pundit” for the media and place the blame squarely on a Republican vendetta, he did have scathing words for the entire “fiscal cliff” fiasco.
“They’re all so caught up in [the] politics of this fake fiscal cliff,” Christie said. “If the people of New Jersey feel betrayed today by those who did this in House last night, then they have good company. I’m with them.”
The governor pointed out that it hadn’t taken the federal government any longer than 31 days to approve natural disaster relief packages in recent years. And, when asked today, the 66th day since Sandy hit, to predict when the relief package would be passed, Christie was noncommittal.
“There’s is no reason at the moment for me to believe anything that they tell me because they’ve been telling me stuff for weeks, and they didn’t deliver,” Christie said. “Our people were played last, and that’s why people hate Washington, D.C.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 2, 2013