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Biden to outline federal response during visit to site of Baltimore bridge collapse

President Biden will travel to Baltimore on Friday to get an update on the aftermath of a major bridge collapse in the city and outline federal response efforts in the 10 days since it fell.

Biden will get an update on the response efforts from the Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers to remove the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge from the water and reopen the Port of Baltimore as quickly as possible. Biden will also receive an aerial tour of the federal and state response efforts.

He will be joined by various state and local officials, including Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D), Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) and Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

The president will also meet with the loved ones of the six people who died when the bridge collapsed, the White House said.

The president is expected to provide an update on federal efforts to aid the reopening of the port and the construction of the bridge. 

He will highlight that $60 million in federal emergency relief funds were quickly approved for initial costs, that the Small Business Administration is providing low-interest disaster loans to eligible businesses, and that the Department of Labor approved Dislocated Worker Grant funding to support workers impacted by the collapse.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed 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.

White House budget director Shalanda Young also wrote to congressional leaders on 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.

“We stand ready to work with Congress to ensure the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland has what it needs to rebuild the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which is critical to the Nation’s workers and economy,” she added.

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.

Biden has vowed that the federal government will foot the bill to rebuild the bridge, but that has been met with backlash from conservative spending hawks. The Department of Transportation has released $16 million for the bridge, which Jean-Pierre called a “down payment.”

Source: The Hill

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