Christie slams calls to offset Irene disaster aid

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie joined calls for immediate increases to the FEMA disaster aid budget in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, slamming fellow Republicans such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) who have called for additional funds to be offset by equivalent spending cuts.

“Our people are suffering now, and they need support now,” Christie said, according to The Wall Street Journal. “And [Congress] can all go down there and get back to work and figure out budget cuts later.”

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The governor was speaking at a town-hall event in Lincoln Park, N.J., with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and other New Jersey politicians.

“You’re going to turn it into a fiasco like that debt-limit thing where you’re fighting with each other for eight or nine weeks and you expect the citizens of my state to wait?,” Christie said. “They’re not gonna wait, and I’m going to fight to make sure that they don’t. I don’t want to hear about the fact that offsetting budget cuts have to come first before New Jersey citizens are taken care of.”

An incensed Christie went on to emphasize the importance of federal aid. Around 150,000 in New Jersey are still without power and some communities remain flooded. The storm killed seven people in the state, and 45 along the Eastern Seaboard.

“We need the support now here in New Jersey, and that’s not a Republican or a Democratic issue,” Christie said.

Christie joins Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell as prominent Republicans who have distanced themselves from Cantor’s call to tie emergency funding and budget cuts.

“My concern is that we help people in need,” McDonnell said Tuesday on his radio show. “For the FEMA money that’s going to flow, it’s up to them on how they get it. I don’t think it’s the time to get into that debate.

“I’m sure the Congress and the president and FEMA will find ways to get the money they need to take care of people.”

President Obama will be visiting New Jersey this weekend to tour the damage.

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