NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Christie took U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to task Wednesday over Cruz’s lack of support in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
As WCBS 880’s Kelly Waldron reported, Christie’s remarks come as Cruz pleads for help in his home state of Texas as the southeast part of the state remains in the grips of Tropical Storm Harvey.
Christie, appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday, criticized Cruz for his recent pleas for disaster relief funding in his home state of Texas, despite Cruz’s track record of having voted against a Sandy relief bill in 2012, a move Christie slammed as “disgraceful.”
“He talks about playing politics — that’s what he did with people’s lives in 2012 and 2013. He was trying to play politics to make it look like he was the most conservative guy in town,” Christie said on Tuesday.
During his own MSNBC appearance Tuesday, Cruz repeated a claim he’s made that two-thirds of the bill had nothing to do with Sandy and instead was filed with “unrelated pork,” which Christie strongly disputed.
“Almost all of the spending in the 50 billion dollar bill was for New York and New Jersey and some of the other areas that got affected by Sandy for hurricane relief,” Christie said. “He knows it. The worst thing about it — and this is why politics has got so cynical in Washington — is statements like that. He should just stand up and say, ‘You know what? I was wrong, I was wrong in 2012, It was the wrong thing to do and I hope that the people of New Jersey and New York are willing to let bygones be bygones and vote for relief for Texas,'” Christie added.
Christie added: “Come to Monmouth and Ocean County, to the homes that have been rebuilt, come to the businesses that have been rebuilt and are creating jobs in this state, and tell those people that was pork barrel.”
Meanwhile, on an appearance on Fox News, Cruz responded directly to Christie’s claims, saying the focus should remain on the people who are impacted by the storm.
“I’m sorry that there are politicians who seem really desperate to have their name in the news and saying whatever they need to, to do that,” said Cruz.
Cruz, speaking from Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center, acknowledged during an interview with CBS News on Wednesday that FEMA funding for Texas relief will incur massive costs in terms of damage, amid what he referred to as “political sniping” over Hurricane Sandy funding.
“Every Texas Republican in Congress supported giving aid to the people of Sandy, to the victims of Sandy, all of us spoke out enthusiastically in support if it,” said Cruz of the relief bill, which he says “got loaded up with 70 percent” of non-emergency aid.
In regards to Congress’ future plans for Texas relief, Cruz said “federal formulas lay out what that compensation will be, and I’m confident we’ll see Republicans and Democrats coming together to draft a bill.”
Cruz told CBS News that he would help lead an effort with fellow Texas Senator John Cornyn, “following federal laws and statutes,” to craft a relief bill that provides “very significant resources” for storm victims.
“We are going to craft a bill that is dedicated to repairing the damage from Harvey, that’s dedicated to the victims of Harvey,” he said. “That’s the focus and what we should do.”
Christie was not the first Tri-State Area politician to take aim at Cruz over the past issue of the Sandy relief bill. This past weekend, U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) tweeted: “I won’t abandon Texas the way Ted Cruz did New York,” tweeted Rep. Peter King (R-New York) on Sunday, a follow up to his previous post “Ted Cruz & Texas cohorts voted vs NY/NJ aid after Sandy but I’ll vote 4 Harvey aid. NY wont abandon Texas. 1 bad turn doesnt deserve another.”
Cruz has a long track record of drawing King’s ire on social media, including a jab in 2016 ahead of the 2017 presidential campaigns during which Cruz mocked “New York values” and claims made about supporting New York’s firefighters and police.
Congress stepped forward with enormous aid packages in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, though some GOP conservatives — including then-Indiana Rep. and now Vice President Mike Pence — chaffed at the price tag. And White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who will be responsible for preparing any disaster request for President Donald Trump, opposed a 2013 Sandy aid package as a South Carolina congressman, offering a plan to cut elsewhere in the budget to pay for it.
Lawmakers provided $110 billion to rebuild the Gulf Coast after Katrina, thanks in part to dogged efforts by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss. The Bush administration, politically scalded by criticism over its botched response, signed off on the aid.
But New York and New Jersey lawmakers seeking help over Superstorm Sandy encountered stiffer resistance. Many Republicans opposed the full $51 billion aid package, which included a $34 billion amendment by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., that included grants for housing and other repairs patterned after the Katrina response.
Some hard feelings linger on the part of New York and New Jersey Republicans, who had to battle to win help for their Democratic-leaning states in the bitter aftermath of the 2012 election.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)