By Daniel Strauss - 01/02/13 09:27 PM EST
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) unloaded on House Republicans and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) Wednesday for their "disgusting" decision to delay a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief.
"Last night, politics was placed before our oath to serve our citizens," Christie said. "For me, it was disappointing and disgusting to watch."
"Shame on Congress," he said.
The governor said GOP leaders had promised him repeatedly that Sandy aid would be addressed after passage of a "fiscal cliff" bill.
"We were given assurances by everyone ... that this was going to be done," he said.
He ripped lawmakers for showing "callous indifference" to Sandy victims, saying they have waited far longer than other victims of recent natural disasters for aid. Sandy hit the East Coast in late October.
"There is only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House majority and their Speaker, John Boehner,” Christie said.
Christie expressed personal fury with Boehner, adding that the Speaker refused to return the governor's calls after Christie learned that the relief package would not be put to a vote.
"I was given no explanation," Christie said.
Christie stressed that, despite Boehner's refusal, the Speaker had not lost "all credibility with him."
"So no, he hasn't lost all credibility with me. But, right now, I think what happened last night was absolutely uncalled for and I've been given no credible explanation as to why," Boehner said. "But, again, he's the Speaker of the House, and tomorrow's another day, so he can prove to me that he really does care about the people of New York and New Jersey by getting this package done."
The New Jersey governor said congressional lawmakers had used the state's residents as "pawns" in a game of "internal House politics."
"It is extraordinarily frustrating to me that we've got people down there who use the citizens of this country like pawns on a chess board," Christie continued. "That's the way the citizens of New Jersey were treated last night — on a political chessboard of internal palace intrigue politics, our people were played last night as a pawn."
Christie then responded to questions by the local press. He refused to move the questioning away from the vote on Sandy aid to other topics like the Tea Party, at one point saying "no" in response to one reporter's question.
He said he had not been given any reason to believe that, as of the time he began speaking at the press conference, a vote would happen soon.
"To this moment, there have been no substantive reasons that were given to me that were credible, and certainly not by the decision makers," Christie said.
But Christie refused to elaborate on what conversations he had had with Boehner recently.
"I'm not going to talk about my conversation with the Speaker today. I have said that no one has given me a substantive, credible reason for it not being done today. But I'm not going to discuss the specifics with the Speaker because I'd like to have conversations with the Speaker in the future. And if I talk about everything we've talked about, I suspect, as it would happen with me if I was having private conversations with folks and they characterized everything I said, it'd be the last time they'd get to talk to me," Christie said. "So to do my job the right way I think I have to be smart about this."
Christie said he objected to the lack of a vote, not the possibility that some lawmakers might not vote for the aid.
"I mean I'm not saying that someone has to vote our way. I think they should. I'm not saying they have to. What happened yesterday is it wasn't' even allowed to happen. And when you're just down there playing games and when you're not moving things along and making decisions — yes or no — you're not doing your job," Christie said. "When you sit and you delay and then you give assurances to assurances to people that are doing their jobs and they're not that's not doing your job. Have some guts. Put it up. Vote yes or no, and let's move on. I've said this a million times."
Lawmakers opposed to the aid, the New Jersey governor continued, had not presented any "substantive" reasons to oppose the aid though.
Christie's comments followed a joint statement he issued with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) denouncing House Republicans on Sandy aid.
"The fact that days continue to go by while people suffer, families are out of their homes and men and women remain jobless and struggling during these harsh winter months is a dereliction of duty," the two governors wrote in a statement. "When American citizens are in need, we come to their aid. That tradition was abandoned in the House last night.
"The people of our states can no longer afford to wait while politicians in Washington play games."
—This report was originally published at 2:11 p.m. and last updated at 4:27 p.m.