Baltimore bridge collapse: Congressional leaders considering federal assistance

Congressional leaders are weighing the best way to aid in recovery efforts in Maryland following Tuesday’s nautical disaster.The Francis Scott Key Bridge along I-695 in Maryland collapsed into the Baltimore harbor following a “ship strike” early Tuesday morning. Top lawmakers are keeping abreast of the mass casualty event and remain open to providing any aid needed by local officials, Fox has learned. “We are quickly working to address this situation,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md).BALTIMORE BRIDGE COLLAPSES INTO HARBOR AFTER SHIP STRIKE, CAUSING MASS CASUALTY EVENT”The federal delegation stands ready to support,” indicated Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD).There is a precedent for Congress to step in and aid the recovery efforts in Baltimore, having previously done so for similar disasters.Congress approved a quarter of a billion dollars on an emergency basis to cover the I-35W bridge collapse over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2007.BALTIMORE BRIDGE COLLAPSE: RAVENS ‘GRATEFUL’ FOR FIRST RESPONDERS ON SCENE AMID ‘SHOCKING’ INCIDENTOnly a few days later, the White House declared a state of emergency in the state. That allowed Minnesota to recover costs from the federal government and begin to remove debris from the scene.The late Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) was chairman of the House Transportation at the Committee at the time. Although the bridge was not in Oberstar’s district, he was able to muscle through an emergency appropriation of $250 million to the state department of transportation to begin rebuilding the bridge.Considering the amount of trade which funnels through the Port of Baltimore – to say nothing of traffic and commerce which moves across the Francis Scott Key Bridge as a major east coast artery – it is possible Congress could be called upon to provide funding to rebuild the bridge in record time. “Of course it will affect trade. I’m worried about the families and all of the inconvenience that will occur because the bridge is gone. It was such a good link,” said Rep. Carol Miller (R-W.V.).
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