Biden to visit site of Baltimore bridge collapse

President Biden is visiting Baltimore Friday in a show of support after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge sent shock waves through the city and disrupted the state’s traffic and commerce. 

The president will survey the site of the devastation and meet with state and local officials. Mr. Biden wants an “on the ground” look at ongoing federal response efforts, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday. The bridge fell on March 26 when the Dali, a Singapore-flagged container ship, struck one of the bridge’s main supports. Six men who were working on the bridge fell into the Patapsco River below and were killed. Mr. Biden will be meeting with their families Friday.

“As the president said within hours of the collapse, this administration will be with the people of Baltimore every step of the way,” Jean-Pierre said. “We are with you, Baltimore, and we will be there until we get this done.” 

The president says the federal government should pay for the entire cost of the bridge’s reconstruction, which Congress would need to approve. 

It’s not yet clear what that will cost, and some Republicans have expressed opposition to having the federal government foot the bill. The Biden administration has approved $60 million in immediate aid to help clean the wreckage. 

White House Office of Management and Budget director Shalanda Young on Friday wrote to Congress and called on lawmakers to authorize “a 100 percent federal cost share for rebuilding the bridge.” She reminded them that “Congress acted in a bipartisan manner within days” to provide similar funding after the 2007 collapse of the I-35W bridge collapse in Minnesota.

Next Tuesday, Maryland’s congressional delegation will be meeting with Gov. Wes Moore and Young Tuesday to discuss emergency funding for Baltimore and its response to the bridge collapse.

A second temporary channel opened this week for some water traffic to proceed, but it will take years to rebuild the bridge, a key artery for the city, state, and Northeast corridor. The fall of the bridge has been a drag on the local economy, too. About 35,000 cars crossed the bridge each day, and those travelers will now need to take longer and more congested routes.

“You’re Maryland tough, you’re Baltimore strong, and we’re going to get through this together. I promise we’re not leaving,” Mr. Biden said on the day of the collapse. “The people of Baltimore can count on us to stick with them every step of the way until the port is reopened and the bridge is rebuilt.”

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