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Baltimore Bridge Reconstruction Now Depends On Congress

President Joe Biden said the Francis Scott Key Bridge needs to be rebuilt “as soon as humanly possible.”

Maryland Bridge Collapse AP-24086537421629
A ship crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge early Tuesday morning. Mark Schiefelbein/AP

President Joe Biden urged Congress to approve funding to quickly rebuild a major Baltimore bridge Tuesday after it collapsed in the early morning.

“It’s my intention that the federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstructing that bridge. And I expect the Congress to support my effort,” the president said in a press conference hours after a ship crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing it to collapse.

Congress, which has struggled to approve other funding measures this year, is currently in the middle of a two-week recess. Interest in taking immediate action on Biden’s request remains unclear. House leadership did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge is a major link in transit and shipping along the East Coast. Though details about how Congress would fund the bill, the timeline for that and how much money they would devote to the project is not yet known, there is precedent to suggest emergency funding could be secured, as was done in 2007 following the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis.

Biden voiced urgency to start rebuilding quickly, given the importance of the port and bridge.

“I’ve directed my team to move heaven and earth to reopen the port and rebuild the bridge as soon as humanly possible,” he said.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said earlier Tuesday that rebuilding would be a long process.

“It’s going to be a build that’s going to require every facet and every aspect of our society,” he said. “It is something that I can tell you we are going to get this done.”

The specifics of the collision are still under investigation, but Biden said there’s no indication of foul play. Officials said the ship’s crew lost control and notified authorities to close off the bridge to traffic. Eight people were still on the bridge at the time of the collapse, Reuters reports. Six people remain unaccounted for, while one person is unharmed and another is in critical condition, Biden said.

Many of Maryland’s congressional representatives expressed support for Biden’s response.

Rep. John Sarbanes said in a statement that the “primary focus right now is rescuing everyone in the water.”

“The entire Maryland delegation is working together with Governor Moore and other partners to help ensure a strong, coordinated local and federal response for the search and rescue efforts, investigation and eventual rebuilding of the bridge,” he said. “Together, our delegation will continue to push for the necessary federal support to assist Baltimore in responding to this tragic incident.”

“The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse is an unthinkable horror. We are all trying to respond accordingly,” Rep. Kweisi Mfume said on X. “I’ve spoken directly with Secretary [Pete] Buttigieg and the White House. They are responding with all of the assets at their disposal.”

The House Homeland Security Committee is receiving briefings from the United States Coast Guard on the accident.

“The committee has been receiving regular updates throughout the morning and anticipates receiving a more thorough briefing soon,” one committee staffer told NOTUS.

Rep. Sam Graves, who is chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said that the investigation continues and that they are working to keep all members of Congress updated.

“At this stage, we need to make sure we’re not getting ahead of the facts, but as we continue to learn more, we will ensure that members of Congress have all available information,” he said in a statement.

Casey Murray is a NOTUS reporter and an Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow.