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Bill mandating feds pay entire cost of Key Bridge rebuild unveiled by Marylanders

The cargo ship Dali sits in the water after running into and collapsing the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, 2024. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images.

Maryland’s congressional delegation introduced a bill Thursday that would require the federal government to cover the costs of rebuilding the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, alleviating the state government of any cost-sharing. 

The two-page bill will need to garner approval in both the Democratically controlled U.S. Senate and the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, though speed may not be a significant factor since the legislation would be retroactive to March 26, the date of the bridge collapse.

Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who represents the district that includes the bridge, wrote in a statement accompanying the bill’s release that in the two weeks since a shipping vessel struck the bridge, causing it to collapse, the state’s lawmakers have “acted with unity, collectedness, precision, and promise.”

“Today, we have made good on our commitment to America and our State by introducing companion legislation in both the House and Senate to build back the Bridge and build it better,” Mfume wrote. “A disaster of this scale requires nothing less than the full and total cooperation of all parties involved.”

Six people were killed in the collapse. The bodies of three road workers who plunged from the bridge when it was struck have been found and three others are presumed dead.

Biden visit

President Biden traveled to the site of the collapse last week to receive a helicopter tour of the damage, meet with the families of the victims, pledge federal support for the workers whose jobs have been affected by the bridge collapse blocking the shipping channel and for rebuilding the bridge.

“To all the families and loved ones who are grieving, I’ve come here to grieve with you,” Biden said during a press conference last week on the banks of the Patapsco River with the collapsed bridge in the background.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore accompanied the president that day and huddled with the congressional delegation inside the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday for a briefing on clearing the channel and rebuilding the bridge. Moore said during a Washington Post seminar on climate change Thursday morning that he was heading back to Capitol Hill later in the day for meetings with a range of congressional leaders of both parties.

Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin said during a press conference following Tuesday’s briefing that no one yet knew the cost to rebuild the bridge.

“We had some discussions in our delegation meeting and the experts don’t know that, they don’t know the range right now,” Cardin said. “It depends on the design of the bridge, the modern technologies.”

Cardin told States Newsroom on Wednesday that he had already spoken with the chairman and ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee about the best path forward for the legislation.

That committee, led by Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware and West Virginia Republican Shelley Moore Capito, has jurisdiction over the legislation.

Cardin said the “new bridge can be a symbol of hope and resilience,” in the statement released Thursday announcing the bill’s introduction.

“The sudden collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge was a human tragedy and an economic tragedy — for Maryland and the nation,” Cardin wrote. “As we continue to mourn the loss of life and this icon of our skyline, we can simultaneously begin work to heal the wounds created by this disaster.”

Republican support needed

Maryland Rep. Andy Harris, the state’s sole Republican in Congress, will be instrumental in convincing House GOP leadership to put the bill on the floor for a vote and for ensuring there are enough votes in that chamber to approve the legislation.

“Following the sudden collapse of the Francis Scott Key bridge, my message has been clear — we must focus our efforts on recovering the victims, bringing closure to those who lost loved ones, and ensuring that the American taxpayer is not held responsible for costs that any negligent, foreign owned shipping company should pay,” Harris wrote in Thursday’s statement.

“This legislation is a step in the right direction and will provide Maryland with the resources necessary to reopen the channel, rebuild the bridge, and hold any party responsible for reimbursing the federal government if found negligent.”

Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.



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Bill mandating feds pay entire cost of Key Bridge rebuild unveiled by Marylanders