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Biden in Baltimore vows to 'move heaven and Earth' to rebuild collapsed bridge

President Biden on Friday got a firsthand look at the damage from the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore and pledged to “move heaven and Earth” to rebuild the structure.

“I’m here to say, your nation has your back. And I mean it. Your nation has your back,” Biden said, speaking with the wreckage of the collapsed bridge in the backdrop.

“The damage is devastating and our hearts are still breaking,” he added, referencing the six people who died when the bridge collapsed late last month.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, on Interstate 695, collapsed into the water after it was hit last Tuesday by the cargo ship Dali, which was headed to Sri Lanka.

The president said his administration’s priority was to reopen the Baltimore Port, which is typically among the most active in the country and is key to commerce across the East Coast. He said officials expect the full channel will be reopened by the end of May.

The White House said Thursday that top administration officials have called major employers in the Baltimore area, including retail chains and distributors, urging them to retain workers in the aftermath of the bridge collapse.

And Biden called on Congress to do its part to address the fallout of the bridge collapse as Baltimore residents face questions about accessing schools, hospitals and offices.

“Folks, we’re going to move heaven and Earth to rebuild this bridge as rapidly as humanly possible,” Biden said. “And we’re going to do so with union labor and American steel.”

White House budget director Shalanda Young wrote to congressional leaders Friday urging lawmakers to approve a 100 percent federal cost share for rebuilding the bridge, eliminating the need for the state to cover a portion of the project.

“This authorization would be consistent with past catastrophic bridge collapses, including in 2007, when the Congress acted in a bipartisan manner within days of the I-35W bridge collapse in Minnesota,” Young wrote.

During his visit to Baltimore, Biden took an aerial tour of the collapsed bridge and received a briefing on response efforts from local, state and federal officials.

Among those in attendance were leaders from the Maryland Department of Transportation, the Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers. Other officials included Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D), Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D), Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) and Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

The president was also scheduled to meet with the loved ones of the six people who died when the bridge collapsed.

Moore, introducing Biden, praised the administration’s response to the bridge collapse, noting officials were in touch with him shortly after the incident occurred.

“I know our state’s largest city is being tested right now. … The people of Maryland are grateful to have a full partner in this work like President Biden,” Moore said.

Source: The Hill

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