Chris Christie, New Jersey’s outspoken Republican governor, says timing — not a political statement — explains his torpedoing of a state-run health exchange bill last week prior to meeting with President Barack Obama to pitch his case for federal aid.
“There seems to be so much confusion about this, so let’s be clear: I vetoed the exchange bill on the day I vetoed it because that was the day it needed to be vetoed,” Christie told reporters today in Trenton. “It was not because I was going to the White House that day and I wanted to stick my finger in the president’s eye.”
The governor was in Washington on Dec. 6 to lobby for funding to rebuild the state after super-storm Sandy ripped up boardwalks and ravaged its coast, left 2.7 million customers without power and brought the mass-transit system to a halt. Obama submitted a request to Congress the following day for $60 billion to help states affected by the storm.
Christie said he vetoed the health exchange because the federal government hasn’t given states enough information on the pros and cons of chartering their own exchanges or allowing Washington to do it for them. He said New Jersey intends to comply with Obama’s Affordable Care Act, but said setting up an exchange through Trenton would be “fiscally irresponsible.”
As for the timing, he said, a 45-day window to act on the measure was closing, so he vetoed it shortly before leaving for Washington. The decision was the subject of an exchange between Christie and host Jon Stewart last week during an appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”