Biden administration asks for emergency funds for Key Bridge replacement

This article was republished with permission from WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

The White House on Friday reiterated its support for full federal funding to replace the Francis Scott Key Bridge in a request to Congress for $4 billion in emergency disaster relief funding.

The letter from Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young to House Speaker Mike Johnson said the money, an add-on to an October supplemental budget request, is needed to respond to the Key Bridge disaster, the wildfires in Maui and tornado victims in Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the Midwest. It also cited the need to be prepared ahead of what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted will be an “extraordinary” hurricane season.

Of the requested $4 billion, the letter asks for $3.1 billion “for repairing and rebuilding highways and roads that have been damaged in disasters and other emergencies across the Nation, including the cost of rebuilding the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. ”

While the letter does not specify a particular amount of funds for the Key Bridge, it repeats the administration’s intent to fully fund the replacement at federal expense, as has been done in bridge disasters in the past.

The letter also encourages Congress to fund the cleanup efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers that allowed for the reopening of the shipping channel into the Port of Baltimore on June 12, almost three months after the container ship Dali slammed into the Key Bridge and sent it tumbling into the Patapsco River. And it said it planned to work with Congress on tax relief for longshoremen who were forced to draw on their retirement plans when work at the port dried up.

Initial estimates on costs of replacing the Key Bridge replacement have put the price tag at upwards of $1.7 billion and projected that it will take years to complete. The state and the White House have said that they expect to recoup at least some of those costs through insurance payments from the shipping company that caused the crash.

While the Biden administration has pledged full funding, that decision will be largely in the hands of the Republican-controlled House. Rep. David Trone (D-6th), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statment Friday that the House “must put politics aside and deliver results.”

That was echoed by Gov. Wes Moore (D). “Now, it’s time for Congress to come together and pass the critical measures necessary to rebuild the bridge for the good of our nation’s economy,” Moore said in a statement released by his office.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up