Congressman criticizes Biden for offering federal help to repair Francis Scott Key Bridge - TAI News
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The container ship Dali, owned by Grace Ocean PTE, rests against wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in the Patapsco River on Wednesday, March 27, 2024, as seen from Pasadena, Md. Investigators began collecting evidence Wednesday from the cargo ship that plowed into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge and caused its collapse, while in the waters below divers searched through twisted metal for several construction workers who plunged into the harbor and were feared dead. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Dan Meuser has criticized President Joe Biden’s offer to use federal funds to repair the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

The bridge collapsed on March 26 after a container ship lost power and collided with the structure. Eight construction workers who were on the bridge fell into the Patapsco River following the collision; two were rescued, but the rest are presumed dead.

Speaking at the White House following the incident, Biden noted that the bridge is critical for travel along the northeast corridor of the United States and of utmost importance to the northeastern economy and the region’s quality of life.

“It’s my intention that federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstructing that bridge, and I expect the Congress to support my effort,” Biden said. “This is going to take some time. And the people of Baltimore can count on us, though, to stick with them at every step of the way until the port is reopened and the bridge is rebuilt.”

In an appearance on Fox Business on March 28, Meuser disagreed.

“It was kind of outrageous immediately for Biden to express in this tragedy the idea that he’s going to use federal funds to pay for it in entirety,” Meuser said. “He doesn’t refer to it as the American taxpayer dollars on anything. The first reaction, and in fact the only reaction, just tends to be to spend.” (00:15)

The Port of Baltimore, a major port of entry for goods coming into the U.S., is serviced by the Francis Scott Key Bridge. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the port is ranked 17th by tonnage in the country. Following the accident, the Maryland Port Administration announced that shipping traffic to and from the port had been suspended, creating a service disruption that experts believe could have long-lasting effects. At least 15,000 people work at the port, and its closure would have a direct economic impact on them, their families, and the economy.

Pennsylvania’s economy is also facing immediate consequences of the accident. The port is the second largest coal export facility in the country and is used by Pennsylvania-based coal companies to distribute their products.

Consol Energy, based in Canonsburg, has a marine terminal in the Port of Baltimore. After the accident, Consol said that vessel access to their terminal had been suspended. According to Consol, the terminal is able to process up to 15 million tons of coal per year and is a key part of the Pennsylvania-based company’s operations.

Other businesses, including GM and Ford, have had to reroute shipments in response to the collapse.

In contrast to Meuser’s remarks about government help for Baltimore, he has often touted the use of federal funds to assist Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District, which he has represented since 2015.

On March 21, Meuser said in a press release that he had secured $2.7 million to replace the Johnston Street Bridge in New Milford Borough. He also announced $2.7 million received for a water project in Schuylkill County and $2.5 million for road repairs in Luzerne County.

In March 2022, Meuser presented Alvernia University in Pottsville with an oversized check representing $2 million in federal funding.But when Congress was debating the $1.5 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2021, Meuser voted against it. According to a February 2023 report from the White House, Pennsylvania is projected to receive $13.2 billion from that bill to repair roads and bridges.

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