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Buttigieg: Fund Bridge Rebuilding Now, Determine Liability Later

The federal government should pay to have Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge rebuilt, then worry about who is responsible for the accident that caused the collapse last month, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said this week, according to Bloomberg Government (subscription).

What’s going on: The question of liability is “going to be pursued aggressively, but to me, that’s really something we need to take care of on the back end,” he told reporters Tuesday. “I don’t want to run any risk that that could add one day to the process of getting the port back open and the bridge back up.”

  • The Department of Transportation gave $60 million—which Buttigieg called a “down payment”—for the Port of Baltimore’s “immediate” needs following the incident. The department is looking into whether and how much of $950 million in emergency relief funds can be used for the bridge’s repair.
  • Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) said his state’s congressional delegation will meet with the Office of Management and Budget next week once Congress is back in session “to understand which funds … refilled in annual appropriations last month already have been dedicated to recovery.”

Why it’s important: Congress and the White House are in active discussion about what a recovery package for the Port of Baltimore might look like.

  • “Buttigieg said … he anticipates turning to Congress, pointing to quick action that was taken after a 2007 bridge collapse. ‘What I can say is that in the past, situations like Minnesota, Congress acted within days.’”
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