NY, NJ Leaders Bash House for Failing to Vote on Sandy Bill

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New Jersey and New York's leaders on both sides of the aisle are blasting the House Republican leadership's decision to keep the Sandy aid bill from getting a vote on Tuesday.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a national Republican figure, had harsh words for House Speaker John Boehner.

“If the people of New Jersey feel betrayed today by those who did this in the house last night, then they have good company. I'm with them,” he said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

He said he called some 30 to 40 Republican representatives over the New Year’s holiday to secure votes for the bill. He says the vote was prevented by Boehner, not because there was not enough support.

“Last night it was my party that was responsible. There are plenty of Democrats who could take responsibility over time, but last night it was my party that was responsible for this,” he added.

Christie wasn’t the only one working the phones. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was on the phone pushing for a vote. Bloomberg was more muted in his reaction, saying he was “disappointed” with the lack of a vote.

“You know democracy is something that takes awhile to come together and to get the results, and as long as it turns out that we get the monies that we think that are appropriate for the federal government to send to a part of the country that has had a major natural disaster, all's well that ends well,” he said.

The mayor said Speaker Boehner assured him that a vote would take place by January 15. The House is expected to break up $60.4 billion package into two. It now looks like a vote on $9 billion for flood insurance will take place on Friday. A second vote for the rest of the $51 billion is expected by January 15. Before the bill was tabled in the House, members had said the bill was going to be divided into at $27 billion bill dealing with the actual impact of the storm, and then a $33 billion amendment that dealt with mitigation efforts.

But despite hearing the same assurances, Christie vented his frustration. “"There is no reason for me at the moment to believe anything they tell me," Christie said.

Republican Congressman Peter King also had harsh words for his party. He said it was a disgrace that the House let the current Congress adjourn without a vote on the aid package.

“I’m saying anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to the Republican Congressional campaign committee should have their head examined,” he said on CNN Wednesday. “I would not give one penny to these people based on what they did to us last night.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo added his voice to the chorus expressing outrage. The Democrat called the decision not to vote on the bill a “disgrace,” and a “dereliction of duty.”

In a joint statement released Governors Cuomo and Christie call the House's decision "inexcusable" and "unprecedented."

President Barack Obama called for an immediate House vote.

Lawmakers spoke with Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Speaker Boehner to figure out how to get billions in aid passed in the next Congress.

Listen above as WNYC's Bob Hennelly discusses Gov. Chris Christie's reaction to the decision by the House not to take up the bill this session with WNYC's All Things Considered Host Amy Eddings.