Christie goes off on ‘toxic’ House Republicans over Sandy aid delay

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) condemned House Republicans Wednesday afternoon for failing to pass a $60 billion package of funding for Hurricane Sandy relief. In the strongest terms, he accused House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) of letting "toxic internal politics" impede necessary storm relief. 

"There's only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these victims: the House majority and their speaker," Christie said. "It was disappointing and disgusting to watch." 

Christie told reporters that he has spoken to both Boehner and President Obama today. But he said he couldn't rely on any assurances from Boehner or his fellow House leaders after he was told repeatedly over the weekend and early in the week that the vote was secure.

Shortly after Christie made the remarks, House Republicans decided to vote on the measure on Friday.

Earlier, Obama called on the House to immediately pass the aid package.

The governor said that the lawmakers had failed to put the country before their own political careers, showing "callous indifference to the suffering of the people of my state." 

The package "could not overcome toxic internal politics of the House majority," Christie said. "Shame on you, shame on Congress." He went on to criticize lawmakers who suggested there was  too much unnecessary spending in the bill as "know-nothings" who "should spend a little less time reading the political talking points put together by their staff." 

Asked if he would campaign against lawmakers who oppose the funding, Christie said, "We'll see. Primaries are an ugly thing."

Christie said he called Boehner four times late last night, and the speaker did not return his calls. 

"There is no reason at the moment to believe anything they tell me, because they've been telling me stuff for weeks, and they didn't deliver," he said. The speaker could redeem himself, he said, by getting the aid package passed. 

Asked if he supported Boehner's reelection as speaker, Christie responded, "I'm not a member of the House. I don't get a vote. I don't care." Two New York House Republicans, Michael Grimm and Peter King, have said they may abstain from Thursday's vote. 

The speaker is meeting with members from New York and New Jersey this afternoon. 

The governor singled out one lawmaker for praise: Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), with whom Christie has had a less-than-friendly relationship

Christie also said that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) " was working as hard as he could to get this done for us" and called directly to tell him that Boehner had nixed a vote on the aid package.

Boehner has told his colleagues that providing storm aid is his first priority for the next Congress, which begins Thursday afternoon.

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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Aaron Blake | January 2, 2013