On January 1 Speaker John Boehner made the decision to pull the Hurricane Sandy Relief bill from a vote because it was full of pork and pet projects. The bill included everything from funding for Amtrak to Alaska fisheries, hardly close to helping those devastated by the storm. As a reminder:
The pork-barrel feast includes more than $8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Homeland Security and Justice departments. It also includes a whopping $150 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to dole out to fisheries in Alaska and $2 million for the Smithsonian Institution to repair museum roofs in DC.
An eye-popping $13 billion would go to “mitigation” projects to prepare for future storms.
Other big-ticket items in the bill include $207 million for the VA Manhattan Medical Center; $41 million to fix up eight military bases along the storm’s path, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; $4 million for repairs at Kennedy Space Center in Florida; $3.3 million for the Plum Island Animal Disease Center and $1.1 million to repair national cemeteries.
Budget watchdogs have dubbed the 94-page emergency-spending bill “Sandy Scam.”
Regardless of the original "Sandy Relief Bill" not really being about Sandy relief, Boehner's move prompted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to hold an angry press conference the next day. He berated House Republicans for the failure of the bill.
"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.
Throughout seven minutes of official remarks in response to Boehner's move, Christie didn't mention pet projects a single time. Finally, at the very end of the press conference (27 minute mark) in response to a reporter, Christie pointed out some of the pet projects put into the bill.
On January 4, a bill to replenish the federal government's flood insurance fund was passed by the House and Senate and was signed by President Obama. On January 15, the House passed a $51 billion Sandy Relief package and it wasn't until January 29 that the remainder of the relief passed after stalling from the Democratic controlled Senate for weeks.
Today, Christie is claiming he never supported a pork ridden bill and demanded pork be stripped out of Sandy Relief from the beginning, which isn't true.
"My criticism was after they did not pass the GOP version of the bill without the pork in last Congress," posted on Twitter today.
In fact, he helped solicit votes for the pork ridden version of the bill Boehner pulled.
"My help was enlisted in rounding up votes. I spoke to members from all over the country. I spent most of New Years Eve and New Years Day on the phone with members of Congress from all over the country soliciting their support and vote for this package," Christie said on January 2.
The entire reason Christie held the press conference above was in response to the bill pulled on January 1, not the amended versions passed later in January.
And to Christie's claim the final and passed version of the Sandy Relief bill had all the pork stripped out of it, he's wrong on that too.
The House added another $33 billion in unrelated spending that includes $10 million for FBI salaries, $2 billion for road construction across the country, as well as funding for the Head Start program, and roof repairs at the Smithsonian.
House Republicans were successful in cutting some pork, including $500 million for weather forecasting and to help create an ocean zoning plan, one of Obama’s pet projects.
Christie used the Sandy Hurricane Relief bill as a convenient political opportunity to slam his own party. Now, he's backtracking and trying to rewrite history. The facts of his tantrum speak for themselves.
"I understand it's challenging as a politician it's hard to stop playing politics but we have jobs to do," Christie said during the press conference. "Politicians in Washington D.C. will say whatever they need to say to get through the next day."
And apparently so will you, Governor.