House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday agreed to hold two votes on Superstorm Sandy aid after Chris Christie, a fellow Republican and New Jersey governor, blasted him for his decision not to take up a $60.4 billion recovery bill for a vote the previous night.
The House will hold a vote on providing $9 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program on Friday, and then vote on another $51 billion spending package when Congress returns on Jan. 15, according to The Hill.
"Getting critical aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy should be the first priority in the new Congress, and that was reaffirmed today with members of the New York and New Jersey delegations," Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in a joint statement Wednesday.
"The House will vote Friday to direct needed resources to the National Flood Insurance Program. And on January 15th, the first full legislative day of the 113th Congress, the House will consider the remaining supplemental request for the victims of Hurricane Sandy," they added.
However, the assurance may not cut much ice with Christie, who said earlier during the day, "There is no reason for me at the moment to believe anything they tell me because they've been telling me stuff for weeks and they haven't delivered."
Speaking at a State House news conference, Christie called Boehner's decision to cancel the vote at the last minute on Tuesday night "inexcusable," according to The Associated Press. "There's only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: The House majority and their speaker John Boehner," Christie said. "Last night, my party was responsible for this."
Christie said he was called at 11:20 on Tuesday night by Cantor and told that authority for the vote was pulled by the speaker. "I called the speaker four times. He did not take my calls. All I can tell you is this was the speaker's decision – his alone."
The governor also criticized Congress members. "Unlike people in Congress, we have actual responsibilities," he said. "I think, unfortunately, folks are putting politics ahead of their responsibilities. It's absolutely disgraceful... It's why the American people hate Congress."
Some reports suggested the delay in the vote could be due to GOP conference's anger over passing a fiscal-cliff bill without spending cuts.
However, Christie, who praised President Barack Obama's handling of Sandy, said, "Last night, politics was placed before our oaths to serve our citizens. For me it was disappointing and disgusting to watch. 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."
The N.J. governor said it was not a Republican or a Democratic issue. "National disasters happen in red states and blue states, states with Democratic governors and Republican governors." He asked Boehner to "do your job and come through for the people of this country."
President Obama sent a $60.4 billion emergency spending bill to Congress early December to pay for recovery from Sandy, which ripped through U.S. Northeast on Oct. 30 killing dozens of people and causing widespread destruction across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. While the amount is not sufficient to pay all of the $82 billion damage assessed by the governors of the three states, but it is higher than the $50 billion plan the White House had initially floated.