Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5th) is failing the citizens of New Jersey by putting ideology over the needs of people still suffering through the devastation of Super Storm Sandy, Ridgewood Mayor Paul Aronsohn wrote in a scatching op-ed in The Record.
The Ridgewood mayor, who lost to Garrett in a race for the 5th district Congressional seat in 2006, hammered the conservative from Wantage for not supporting the $60 billion federal Sandy aid package request.
Garrett is the only federal lawmaker in the Garden State to not support the bundle of infrastructure upgrade requests made to Congress, expressing skepticism that accountability would be present or that the money would be spent effectively.
Garrett is nothing if not consistent. The conservative veteran of the House of Representatives also previously opposed the federal aid package for Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana.
"You remember all the stories about the FEMA trailers, about the credit, debit cards, whatever they were at that time, given out to people across the country, even if they were not in those areas," Garrett told CNBC's Jim Cramer last week. "I think the American public wants to make sure there is a level of accountability going into this sort of thing."
The Tea Party darling may also be on to something – the NY Post reported about $200 million in "pork" projects are now lumped into the overall aid package. The proposed spending includes new vehicles for the FBI, $150 million for Alaska fisheries, repairs to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, among other seemingly unrelated projects.
In his conversation with Cramer, the budget hawk also expressed apprehension in adding another $60.4 billion of debt to the $239 billion the country is already buried under.
To Aronsohn, the Congressman's position was "unconscionable," "indecent," and a "new low."
New Jersey suffered an estimated $40 billion damage. Hundreds of thousands of structures damaged or washed away. Boardwalks, beaches, roads, bridges and gas lines were demolished. Thousands are still displaced as Christmas approaches.
The money is needed, Aronsohn argues; there has been real loss, real suffering in New Jersey.
"This is unacceptable," Aronsohn, a Democrat, wrote of Garrett's position. "Action is needed now. The magnitude of the devastation has been great and widespread, ravaging communities and disrupting families throughout large sections of our state."
The Ridgewood mayor – whose town suffered an estimated $1.3 million in damage from Sandy – said there were moral and economic reasons to support the aid package.
"He needs to get on the same page with the governor, the rest of the New Jersey congressional delegation and the tens of thousands of New Jerseyans still struggling in the wake of our state’s worst storm," Aronsohn wrote in the op-ed. "Simply stated, Garrett needs to do the right thing."
Governor Chris Christie has been pressing Congress to "stop the bickering" and pass the legislation, though Senate Republican lawmakers hope to pare down the aid to $44 billion.