Washington (CNN) - After a series of meetings with both President Barack Obama and congressional leaders, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is rarely at a loss for words, declined to answer questions from reporters Thursday and left Washington in near total silence.
As it turns out, the rising Republican star's quest for money to rebuild his state's battered shoreline may be colliding with another crisis - the fiscal cliff. In other words: bad timing.
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"It doesn't come at an opportune time because of the fiscal cliff, both the talks and the fact that we're short on money," Senator Charles Schumer, D-New York, said of the request for disaster relief funds coming from his own state, along with New Jersey and Connecticut.
Lawmakers from the storm-ravaged region believe the Obama administration will propose approximately $50 billion in aid, far short of the $82 billion sought by state leaders.
Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, said that kind of money is not "lying around." She and some of her Republican colleagues in the Senate may seek budget cuts, or off-sets, to pay for the massive clean-up.
"It's such a complex time right now. We're dealing with a host of fiscal issues. We're trying to prevent our country from going off the fiscal cliff," Collins told CNN.
One GOP Senator, James Inhoffe, R-Oklahoma, said the assistance might face trouble getting passed without such off-sets. "I think it might. I think it might. You can't predict that."
The uncertain fate of the relief money comes little more than a month after the pre-election image of Christie and President Obama standing shoulder to shoulder, with the promise of speedy relief for the region.
"I want you to cut through red tape. I want you to cut through bureaucracy. There's no excuse for inaction at this point," the President told agency leaders on October 30, while touring the headquarters of the American Red Cross in Washington.
An administration official told CNN the White House is still working on its proposed request. "That process has not been completed and it would be premature to speculate on a specific number," the official said.
The 2011 Budget Control Act, which included the automatic sequestration cuts that placed the nation on its current course toward the fiscal cliff, was designed to preserve disaster relief funds, congressional aides say. But the staggering costs associated with Sandy far surpass the money available.
"Not enough to cover that," Collins said.
Schumer noted Washington has always responded to major natural disasters, no matter the political turmoil of the day.
"In the past for a hundred years the country has said, if the hand of God strikes the region in a very large way that the federal government has to step in because the localities can't handle it. That shouldn't change," Schumer said.
WHAT GOP KNOWS: Obama will have to cut even DEEPER inside his flat underwear - pull out the magic banana cheese - make his suffering peoples who voted for him smell the gas. How much longer will the Blue Boys at Jersey Shore and Staten Island wait?
Poetic Irony (or Justice?): Romney was accused of wanting to dissolve FEMA - CNN never clearified the true intent. Now Obama has no money in FEMA for NJ and NY for disaster reimbursement and rebuilding - he mis-handled (appropriated?) it. Sounds like a good case for the Attorney General Deval Patrick (oops, I mean Eric Holder) (wink).
GOP applying slow steady pressure - iwith appropriate timing, and in the appropriate way - because, despite how the DNC demonized us, we care about America much more sincerely and deeply than the current corrupt Democrat administration - there are vile nasty things yet to be revealed - and the public will know and understand soon enough. Meanwhile, let the "Southside Chicago-Boston Snakes" sweat.
WOW if the GOP were in Canada we would KICK them OUT
they would likely move to China or the USA – actually China would kick them out as China has universal health care and one of the best in the world
He didn't REALLY think Obama would come through for him,..........did he????
Tragic situation. Maybe Adelson could kick in another 33M, or Trump, or Romney. Instead of "sitting frozen" in their
hotel rooms, Romney could have written a check. It's not too late.
After the historical spending spree the Bush administration run into the red ink more than any five prior presidents, now the bills are over due and over the cliff. Who do you believe that the biggest share of deficit should come from? The weak, the lame, the poor, the student, the elderly? The last election was all about money, deficit and politics and all we see is finger pointing.. while the people want answers about our future, NOW!
Seeking money from the GOP/Tea Party is like asking Scrooge or squeezing blood from a turnip.
Why governor........how do you expect your GOP friends in congress to pony up the bucks you need for your disaster when they are busy fighting to protect tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires? We have to keep that money in the hands of the "job creators".........there's nothing left over for disasters.....especially when they occur in blue states.
you still want to be a member of GOP?
No bad timinig. He is a Republican. Obama needed the votes of the people in NJ before the election. He doesnt any more. Welcome to the real world NJ.
Now that he got your vote, he has no use for you, so good luck with that. Fools.
Wow. The GOP will even screw one of their own. Good luck Governor Christie and the people of New Jersey.
What a joke only foolish people from both party's believe all of this bs.We barrow 1.5 trillion each year to pay for all the crap we cannot afford but we can't get 68 mil to clean up. Next you will be telling me that we have 300 thousand plus new unemployment claims and only producing 188 thousand new jobs and the unemployment rate is dropping.we are a country that believes that the federal government is santa and the media are his elves.
they should be grateful for 50 billion rather nothing at all. let the insurance companies pick up some of the tab.