Biden to Baltimore: ‘Your nation has your back’

By Robin Bravender | 04/05/2024 04:08 PM EDT

The president called on Congress to swiftly approve funding to rebuild Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge.

President Joe Biden thanks first responders for their efforts during the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

President Joe Biden thanks first responders for their efforts during the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Dundalk, Maryland, on Friday as Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (right) looks on. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

President Joe Biden traveled to Baltimore, where he vowed Friday to “move heaven and earth” to support the rebuilding effort in the wake of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

“Your nation has your back,” Biden said, as he praised first responders and mourned the deaths of the construction crew that was working on the bridge when it collapsed on the morning of March 26.

“All the families and loved ones who are grieving, I’ve come here to grieve with you,” Biden said.


The president has a personal connection to the region, he said. “The Biden family goes all the way back to being watermen in this bay,” he said. Biden’s father was born and raised in Baltimore.

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

Officials have cleared out small channels for ships working to clear the wreckage, Biden said. And the Army Corps of Engineers has announced that they’ll be able to open a third channel for some commercial traffic — including car carriers — by the end of April. “By the end of May, we will open the full channel,” Biden said.

The president was joined by federal and state officials, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Maryland lawmakers and Maryland Democratic Gov. Wes Moore.

“Ten days ago, a piece of the Baltimore skyline and a piece of the Baltimore spirit plunged into the river,” Moore said. “But the people of Maryland, we rallied.”

Biden’s visit comes as his administration is pushing Congress to authorize full funding to rebuild the bridge.

“I call on Congress to authorize this effort as soon as possible,” Biden said. His administration is also committed to ensuring that the responsible parties are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law, Biden said Friday.

White House budget director Shalanda Young on Thursday sent a letter to key lawmakers in the House and Senate asking Congress to “join us in demonstrating our commitment to aid in recovery efforts by authorizing a 100 percent federal cost share for rebuilding the bridge.”

Federal agencies have already made some funding available to assist with the recovery effort in Baltimore.

The Transportation Department last week announced $60 million in “quick release” funding for the Maryland Department of Transportation to put toward initial costs.

The Small Business Administration is providing low-interest disaster loans to eligible businesses affected by the collapse.

And on Friday, the Biden administration announced an initial award of $3.5 million in emergency dislocated worker grant funding to Maryland. That funding, administered by the Labor Department, allows the Maryland Department of Labor to train and hire workers to help with cleanup and recovery.

Several major employers, including UPS, Amazon, Domino Sugar, Home Depot, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru and Floor & Decor, have committed to retaining their workers in their Port of Baltimore facilities, the White House announced.

Maryland estimates that a total of 270,000 jobs will be affected by the bridge collapse and the reduced operations at the Port of Baltimore, according to the Labor Department.