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Maryland senator: Federal government to cover 90 percent of bridge rebuild costs

Maryland lawmakers are expecting the federal government to cover the lion’s share of the cost of the collapse and subsequent rebuilding of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge — with Congress potentially on the hook for only a fraction of the total as talk about an emergency supplemental bill increases.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told reporters that roughly 90 percent of the bridge’s reconstruction will be paid for via the Federal Highway Administration’s emergency fund, which has about $950 million and is replenished yearly with $100 million. The state sent a letter to the federal government Wednesday saying it will look to use money from that fund to pay for that process.

What work Congress will need to do on this subject remains unclear because Van Hollen and other Maryland members are awaiting a full recovery cost assessment before they make any asks of colleagues.

“They’re doing that assessment right now,” Van Hollen told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I don’t know exactly when, but I assume it will be in the coming days. It will be a rough estimate.”

“It’s when you get into funds that go to the permanent bridge replacement that you have a cost share, but it’s 90 percent federal funds and 10 percent state funds,” he continued, noting he and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) will be preparing legislation to cover the 10 percent portion.

Van Hollen said he was preparing to call Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) about that pending legislative effort with a pitch that could be an uphill climb among some congressional Republicans. He also pushed back against GOP calls for that funding to be offset.

“My message will be: We’re all Americans. We should all be in this together to help a city in need,” he said. “This is an emergency situation and we’ve always addressed emergencies through supplementals.”

The incumbent senator also indicated he was unsure whether it could pass during the coming Senate work period.

His remarks come two days after a cargo ship en route to Sri Lanka lost power and collided with the bridge early Tuesday morning, causing it to collapse. Six people are presumed dead due to the incident.

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