Transcript: NJ Gov. Chris Christie blames Boehner & House GOP for blocking Hurricane Sandy disaster relief funding

Edited by Jenny Jiang

Transcript of remarks by NJ Gov. Chris Christie criticizing the House Republicans for not approving the $60 billion disaster relief package for states impacted by Hurricane Sandy at a press briefing on Jan. 2, 2013: 

Good afternoon. When Hurricane Andrew made landfall on Aug. 24, 1992, Congress and President Bush 41 responded within 31 days with a federal aid package.

When Hurricane Gustav made landfall on Sept. 1 and then Hurricane Ike hit 12 days later, Congress and President Bush 43 responded in 17 days with a federal aid package.

When Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, Congress and President Bush 43 responded with an initial $62.3 billion aid package in 10 days.

Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29, 2012 – 66 days ago.

In our state alone 346,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.

Nearly 7 million New Jerseyans were without power – some for up to 14 days.

Nearly 600 state roads were closed.

127 shelters housed with over 7,000 evacuated citizens.

All regional mass transit and Hudson River crossings were closed.

All New Jersey schools were closed – some for weeks.

Tens of thousands of businesses were destroyed with many still closed.

Our Jersey Shore was devastated, with the loss of homes, public buildings, and iconic symbols of New Jersey culture and economic vitality destroyed.

Tens of thousands of our citizens entered 2013 unsure of their future, as they spend the holiday season displaced from all that was familiar and comforting.

31 days for Andrew victims. 17 days for victims of Gustav and Ike. 10 days for victims of Katrina.

For the victims of Sandy in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, it’s been 66 days and the wait continues.

There’s only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocence victims: The House Majority and their Speaker, John Boehner.

This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. National disasters happen in red states and blue states, and states with Democratic Governors and Republican Governors.

We respond to innocent victims of natural disasters not as Republicans or Democrats but as Americans. Or at least we did until last night.

Last night, politics was placed before our oaths to serve our citizens. For me, it was disappointing and disgusting to watch.

On January 2010, I took an oath to serve all the people in New Jersey without regard to race or ethnicity, gender or political affiliation. And for the last 1,079 days, I have worked as hard as I could to be loyal to that oath.

Whether under the pressure of dealing with a legislature of the opposite party or the scrutiny of a hotly contested election, I’ve always put the people of New Jersey and my oath ahead of petty, personal politics.

Last night, the House of Representatives failed that most basic test of public service and they did so with callous indifference for the suffering of the people of my state.

If you want an example of how non-partisan this issue should have been, I offer this for your consideration. Near midnight last night, conservative Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California both spoke on the floor in concert with each other and in support of this aid package. It’s one for the record books, I suspect.

On the equities, this should be a no-brainer for the House Republicans as well. Both New York and New Jersey use the international firm of McKinsey & Co. to assess and quantify the damage to our states. Our professional staff have spent countless hours with Congressional staff providing leadership with back-up documentation for all of the damaged claims.

Governor Cuomo and I have spent hours and hours speaking to individual members of the House and Senate to answer their questions. We worked with President Obama and his administration and satisfied them of the urgent need for the $60 billion aid package.

This was good enough for 62 United States Senators of both parties to vote for this package.

This was good enough for a majority of the House of Representatives.

It overcame all the factual challenges; it just could not overcome the toxic internal politics of the House Majority.

Finally, New Jersey and New York are perennially one of the most generous states in the nation to our fellow states. We’ve voted for disaster relief for other states in need. We are donor states, sending much more to Washington, D.C. than we ever get back in federal spending.

Despite this history of unbridled generosity, in our hour of desperate need we’ve been left waiting for help 6 times longer than the victims of Katrina with no end in sight.

Americans are tired of the palace intrigue and political partisanship of this Congress, which places one-upmanship ahead of the lives of the citizens who sent these people to Washington, D.C. in the first place.

New Jerseyans and New Yorkers are tired of being treated like second-class citizens.

New York deserves better than the selfishness we saw in display last night. New Jersey deserves better than the duplicity we saw displayed last night. America deserves better than just another example of a government that’s forgotten who they’re there to serve and why.

66 days and counting. Shame on you. Shame on Congress.

Despite my anger and disappointment, my hope is that the good people in Congress – and there are good people in Congress – will prevail upon their colleagues to finally – finally – put aside the politics and help our people now. That’s the only hope we have left is for the good people to prevail upon the others.

One thing I can assure the people of this region is this: Governor Cuomo and I will not stop fighting together to see that justice is done and that our citizens’ suffering is finally addressed by this Congress.


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