Biden tells Baltimore ‘your nation has your back’ during bridge visit

President Joe Biden told reporters on Friday that his administration “will support Maryland and Baltimore every step of the way.”

President Joe Biden Francis Scott Key Bridge,
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - APRIL 05: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Maryland Transportation Authority Police Headquarters, near the site of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, on April 05, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. The bridge collapsed after being struck by the 984-foot cargo ship Dali at 1:30 AM on March 26. President Biden traveled to Baltimore for an aerial tour of the salvage operation of the bridge and to meet with families of the six victims who were working to repair potholes on the bridge when it collapsed. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden delivered remarks at the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on Friday and told residents that “your nation has your back.”

While speaking with the press, Biden said his administration “will support Maryland and Baltimore every step of the way to help you rebuild and maintain all the business and commerce that’s here now.”

During the press conference, Biden was joined by Maryland Governor Wes Moore, Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott, U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-Md., and U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and many others.

Mfume told theGrio that he hopes Biden’s appearance sends a message that this “is an American disaster” that deserves proper attention.

“I hope it sends the same message that was sent in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and in 2007 when the bridge collapsed in Minneapolis,” declared Mfume.

Mfume said that in both cases “people pulled together to make sure the disasters were dealt with sufficiently.”

Biden’s visit comes more than a week after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed on March 26. Around 1:30 a.m., a massive cargo ship rammed into one of the bridge’s support beams, causing the bridge to plunge into the Patapsco River. The accident claimed the lives of six construction workers.

Prior to the press conference, the president took an aerial tour of the wreckage and told reporters that “the damage is devastating and our hearts are still breaking.”

He added that the collapse has had a ripple effect around the country and that the first priority is to reopen the port, which is one of the nation’s largest shipping hubs for “importing and exporting cars.”

“I directed the Coast Guard, the Navy and the Army Corps of Engineers … to work together to remove the steel as quickly as possible,” Biden told the press.

The president told reporters that by May the entire channel should be open to all ships and the port should be able to resume normal operation.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore,
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore speaks at an event on the Biden administration’s workforce initiative plan at Carver Vocational School on Nov. 13, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

In the meantime, Biden called on Congress to “authorize” funding for the rebuilding of the bridge “as soon as possible.”

This comes after House Republicans rejected Biden’s plan to spend $60 million to reconstruct the collapsed Francis Scott Key bridge.  

U.S. Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas, told theGrio that her Republican colleagues response to the bridge collapse is “ridiculous”

Crockett said that while Republicans “may not care for Baltimore because it’s a Black city or they may not care for the state of Maryland because it’s typically a Democratic state” that should not matter “because that’s what humanity looks like.”

The congresswoman added, “We help out wherever the need exists.”

Despite the GOP’s opposition, Crockett believes the U.S. House of Representatives will have the votes needed to support Biden’s initiative to rebuild the Bridge.

Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas,
UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 13: Rep.-elect Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas, speaks during a news conference with newly elected incoming members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus at the AFL-CIO building in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, November 13, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Given House Republicans’ “narrow majority. I think that we can get something done for Baltimore,” noted Crockett.

While efforts to rebuild the port are in motion, Biden spent time during the press conference praising Amazon, Home Depot, Domino’s and many companies for their commitment to continue paying their employees.

“I’m calling on every company in and around the port to do the same thing…we’re coming back soon,” said Biden.

“We are going to move heaven and earth to build this bridge as rapidly and humanly possible,” he added.

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