Rep. Andy Harris on Lifting Red Tape to Expedite Key Bridge Reconstruction

On March 26, the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapsed after being struck by a cargo ship owned by Danish shipping giant Maersk. The excursion from Baltimore to Sri Lanka came to an immediate halt when the ship reportedly lost power and struck the iconic bridge. Authorities have reported that six people are presumed dead following the crash and a massive cleanup project is now underway.

What the Biden Administration is saying: Shortly following the crash, President Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg delivered remarks laying out their plans for a government-financed rebuild of the Key Bridge. “It’s my intention that federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstructing that bridge, and I expect to — the Congress to support my effort,” said President Biden on March 26.

Rep. Andy Harris joined O’Connor & Company on WMAL-FM to discuss the Biden Administration’s failed response in the wake of this tragic event.

Should taxpayers be fronting the bill for reconstruction? “[Maersk] ​is the ​largest ​shipping ​container ​company ​in ​the ​world, ​last ​I ​checked … They ​have ​deep, ​deep ​pockets. ​I ​have ​no ​idea ​why ​they’re ​not ​talking ​about ​an ​all -out ​effort. Look, ​I ​think ​they ​ought ​to ​subcontract ​Leticia ​James ​on ​this ​one. ​If ​she ​can ​get ​400 ​million ​for ​nothing, ​you ​know, ​for ​a ​nothing ​case, ​you ​should ​get ​billions ​on ​this ​one.”

How is red tape endangering the reconstruction process? “You’re ​going ​to ​see ​this ​fight ​go ​on ​for ​years unless ​Congress ​steps ​in ​and ​puts ​his ​foot ​down ​and ​says, ​look, ​on ​critical ​infrastructure ​you’re ​going ​to ​have ​to ​just ​waive ​a ​lot ​of ​the ​environmental ​regulations, ​a ​lot ​of ​the ​labor ​law ​regulations ​that​increase ​the ​cost ​of ​the ​project​…​I ​mean, ​it’s ​nice ​the ​President ​offered ​taxpayer ​dollars ​for ​it, ​but ​when ​you ​add ​project ​labor ​agreements, ​you ​have ​Davis ​bacon ​requirements, ​you’re ​increasing ​the ​cost ​of ​this ​probably ​20 to ​30 percent.”

Historical precedent: Congressman Harris referenced the I-35W bridge collapse over the Mississippi river in Minneapolis, Minnesota several years ago, which similarly collapsed, killing thirteen people and injuring 145. The Republican governor at the time, Tim Pawlenty, and the Democratic-led US Congressional delegation worked in a bipartisan way, and within hours, the federal government pledged millions to clean up the bridge’s debris. Within days, Congress unanimously passed a bill to rebuild the I-35 bridge – which then-President George W Bush signed into law.

TAKE ACTION! Contact your Member of Congress today and tell them to expedite the reconstruction of the Francis Scott Key Bridge by reducing the environmental and regulatory burdens that can stand in the way of rapid reconstruction efforts.

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