New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Wednesday defended his harsh criticism of the House GOP over delayed aid for recovery efforts for Hurricane Sandy.
“Sandy was and is above politics,” said the governor in an interview on CBS’s “This Morning.” “If my party’s not putting it above politics, they’ll hear from me.”
Christie has vocally urged Washington to act quickly to deliver aid to residents in coastal areas devastated when Sandy battered the Northeast in October. Last week he blasted Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), after the House leader pulled a Sandy relief bill on the last day of the 112th Congress.
Boehner later scheduled votes on two Sandy relief measures after facing anger from New York and New Jersey lawmakers.
The House on Friday passed a bill, which was signed by Obama on Sunday, providing $9.7 billion to aid in covering flood insurance claims from the storm. House lawmakers are expected to take up measures on another $51 billion in Sandy aid.
In his State of the State address, delivered in Trenton on Tuesday, Christie vowed that he would not let his state’s residents be “shortchanged” when it came to receiving the relief they needed.
"We have stood with the citizens of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Iowa, Vermont, California and Missouri in their times of need — now I trust that they will stand with us," said Christie.
Christie said that his words were effective in pressing lawmakers to act quickly, and on ABC’s “Good Morning America” he vowed to “keep the pressure on.”
“What I’d like is for the parties to listen, listen to the people in my state and the people in the state of New York. They are suffering, they are hurting and they don’t understand why they’ve had to wait seven times longer than the victims of Katrina for any aid from the federal government,” he said.
Christie also rebuffed critics who said that he failed to discuss gun-control measures in his address to state legislators.
The governor said he believed his focus should be on Sandy, but that he would also discuss efforts to prevent gun violence in the days ahead.
“I think we have to talk about all the aspects of why we are seeing this kind of outbreak of violence in our society,” he said, arguing for a broad approach.
“We have to talk about gun control as part of it. New Jersey has the second toughest gun-control laws in America, behind the state of New York,” he added.
Christie said new gun laws should be part of the “entire conversation.” “But if you stop there … you are shortchanging the problem,” he cautioned.
The governor, who is also seen as a potential 2016 GOP presidential contender, again dismissed speculation about his future plans, saying he was focused on his job as governor.
Christie said if he answered the call to run in 2016, he would be “more ready than I was in 2012, because I will have done my job for longer and hopefully have gotten better.”
But he added that he would only make that decision “when the time comes.”