What did I tell you? In unsparing and blunt language, Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) lowered the boom on Washington for its inaction in helping the victims of Hurricane Sandy. But he aimed his justifiably angry words at the Republican majority in the House and specifically Speaker John Boehner. “There is only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House majority and their speaker, John Boehner.”
Holding forth at a press conference in Trenton, N.J., Christie pointed out that New Jersey, New York and Connecticut have waited 66 days and counting on aid from the federal government. And he said he worked the phones to secure votes for the package. But after being given assurances all weekend that a bill would be voted on “[t]here is no reason for me to believe anything [Congress] is telling me.”
Christie’s first clue that something was amiss was Boehner ducking his phone calls. The governor noted that he called the speaker four times after 11 p.m. last night and didn’t get a return call. Sure, Boehner was trying to get the fiscal cliff deal done, but someone on his staff should have been in touch with Christie.
Christie slammed the palace intrigue that has stalled assistance to his fellow New Jerseyans. But he engaged in a little intrigue of his own. While Christie liberally slammed Boehner, he heaped praise on House Minority Leader Eric Cantor. In my last post I criticized the Virginia congressman as being more interested in politics than governing. In his efforts to help Christie and other Sandy ravaged governors get the aid they need, Cantor was governing and playing politics.
As Christie said, disaster relief was once something that defied politics. When Americans are in trouble, we move heaven and earth to help them. That Cantor worked hard to get the bill in shape is a good sign that his governing muscle hasn’t atrophied. But by helping Christie, Cantor played great politics. Boehner made an enemy of Christie and that can only inure to Cantor’s benefit. Perhaps tomorrow we’ll see what that looks like.