Maryland governor hopeful of GOP support for Key Bridge clean-up

Maryland governor hopeful of GOP support for Key Bridge clean-up

Gov. Wes Moore meets with Capital News Service in his Annapolis office on April 24, 2024. (Angelique Gingras/Capital News Service)

By KIERSTEN HACKER and TYRAH BURRIS
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS —Gov. Wes Moore said he has met with several Republicans in Congress to discuss federal support for the response to the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse and that they have been “incredibly encouraging” about their support for the clean-up effort.

He praised the sole Republican in the Maryland delegation in Congress, Rep. Andy Harris, for reaching out to his friends in the conservative Freedom Caucus on behalf of the bridge recovery.

Moore hasn’t officially sat down with U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, even though he showed up at Johnson’s office on Capitol Hill recently, the governor said in an interview. But he said he has personally met with “multiple Republican chairs of multiple committees.”

“They’ve been incredibly encouraging, because they understand that what we’re asking for in this moment is not for a favor,” Moore said. “We’re not asking for a charity. Right? We’re asking for support that a crucial artery for the Port of Baltimore can actually get supported.”

Moore’s comments came during a wide-ranging interview with Capital News Service in his office conference room, where he again called on Congress to take bipartisan action using Maryland as an example.

“There’s something special that we’re doing here in Maryland, where we really are moving in a sense of collaboration and it’s not always saying that we agree on everything, we don’t,” Moore said. “But we move in collaboration, and we move in partnership.”

In the four weeks since a container ship struck the Key Bridge and brought it crashing down, officials have scrambled to handle the crisis. Maryland’s congressional delegation unveiled a bill requiring the federal government to pay for all costs of rebuilding the bridge.

President Joe Biden initially promised full federal funding to rebuild the bridge, with his administration quickly making $60 million available upon a request from the Maryland Department of Transportation. The fate of other funds remains in the hands of Congress.

At a time when it is challenging for members of Congress to find common ground, Moore said, he is asking them to remember “who got hurt in this.” He’s also asking them to maintain a sense of urgency in the response.

Fully clearing the channel and reopening the Port of Baltimore have been top priorities for Moore as he continues navigating the crisis. A 35-foot deep channel is set to open later this week, Moore announced Tuesday, so several stranded vessels can safely depart.

This channel will only open for a few days and then close as salvage crews work to remove debris perched on the bow of the Dali and stay on track with opening the full channel.

The FBI has since opened an investigation into the Dali, but Moore said “in no way, shape or form” will it interfere with reopening the channel and the port. The investigation is important, Moore told CNS, and his team is cooperating with FBI and National Transportation Safety Board investigations.

“Because if people are held liable, criminally or otherwise, they need to be held to account,” Moore said. “Something tragic happened and I think it’s important that the FBI, the NTSB and everyone else who’s investigating, they find out what and they find out who’s responsible.”

While managing the biggest crisis the state has faced during his tenure, Moore recalled how tough the first few days after the bridge collapse were. He said he was working on only a couple of hours of sleep each day and barely saw his children.

When his family then sat down for their first dinner together, his son, 10, didn’t quite understand what was happening. But his 12-year-old daughter, he said, asked him a stream of questions and shared things she’d heard at school.

Moore said “this stuff isn’t easy” for his children, but that he’s trying to see things through their eyes.

“I’ve really been so impressed with how they just continue to maintain their humanity and their independence, and also their innocence in all of it,” Moore said. “Which I think has just been really beautiful.”

About The Author

Capital News Service

aflynn1@umd.edu

Capital News Service is a student-powered news organization run by the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism. With bureaus in Annapolis and Washington run by professional journalists with decades of experience, they deliver news in multiple formats via partner news organizations and a destination Website.