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Biden visits Baltimore, ambiguous on who will pay to rebuild bridge

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President Joe Biden is sending a mixed message as to where funding will come from to rebuild the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Biden on Friday visited the site of last week’s Baltimore bridge collapse. The president sent mixed messages during public remarks on who will pay to repair the damage, calling for both the shipping company and federal government to cover the cost of rebuilding the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

The president vowed to hold the “party responsible” accountable for the collision by making them “pay to repair the damage,” while at the same time committing the federal government to cover the cost of rebuilding the bridge.

Biden said within hours of the tragedy, the federal government committed $60 million in emergency federal funding to assist in recovery efforts of the bridge collapse.

“I fully intend as the governor knows, to have the federal government cover the cost of building this entire bridge—all of it,” the president proclaimed.

Biden continued by calling on Congress to authorize the spending request as soon as possible. The president vowed that union labor and American steel would be used to rebuild the bridge.

The House Freedom Caucus released a statement warning against using some of the funds intended for rebuilding efforts on “pork-filled” spending projects. The caucus also said they would not vote on funding until the Biden administration lifts its ban on new sites for liquefied natural gas exports.

Earlier in the day Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signed an executive order directing $60 million to “provide immediate temporary economic relief to support businesses and workers impacted” by the bridge collapse.

The executive order commits $15 million to the Port of Baltimore Emergency Business Assistance Program, $12.5 million to the Port of Baltimore Worker Retention Program, $15 million to the Port of Baltimore Worker Support Program and directs $15 million to the Neighborhood BusinessWorks program.

Biden and Moore claim businesses that utilize the port have committed to staying, quashing concerns companies could relocate port operations as they have had to shift ports since the accident.

In addition, the president laid out a timeline for when the port will reopen, declaring the full channel to be open by the end of May — saying that currently two small channels have been cleared.

The president lamented that 20,000 jobs depend on the port, and it is vital to the City of Baltimore’s economy. The Port of Baltimore is the largest auto port in the nation. Cargo ships have since diverted to multiple ports on the eastern seaboard, including Norfolk, Virginia.

Experts predict it could take several years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild the bridge, which originally opened in 1977.

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