President Obama asked Congress for $60.4 billion in federal aid on Friday for New York, New Jersey and other states recovering from Hurricane Sandy–just one day after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a key part of the president’s health care reform.
The Republican governor appeared pleased with the president’s continued push to help the areas ravaged by the deadly storm. Christie, in a joint statement issued with Democratic New York Gov. Cuomo, said that “today’s agreement on the administration’s request to Congress would authorize more than $60 billion in funding that will enable our states to recover, repair, and rebuild better and stronger than before.”
Christie and Cuomo visited the White House on Thursday, pressing Obama for help securing as much relief money from the federal government as possible. The storm led to at least 125 deaths–60 of them in New York and 34 in New Jersey–and caused an estimated $62 billion in damage.
But on the same day as his White House visit, Christie rejected a bill drafted by his state’s Democratic legislature related to Obamacare. The proposed measure would have created a health insurance exchange for his state in order to subsidize the cost of insurance for low- and middle-income wage earners. In this set-up, residents would have been able to buy private, federally subsidized coverage.
“I will not ask New Jerseyans to commit today to a state-based exchange when the federal government cannot tell us what it will cost, how that cost compares to other options, and how much control they will give the states over this option that comes at the cost of our state’s taxpayers,” said Christie in a statement. New Jersey became the 19 state to turn down the Affordable Care Act’s offer for a state-run health insurance exchange plan, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Jon Stewart called out Christie’s actions–to his face–on Thursday during an appearance on The Daily Show. Stewart compared the state’s catastrophic storm to a personal health care crisis. “If you have cancer and you don’t have insurance, that’s Hurricane Sandy.”
A recent PPP poll suggests Christie popularity is waning within his own party.