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Congress expected to consider emergency spending measure to replace Baltimore bridge after collapse

Lawmakers are expected to rush through a supplemental spending request to cover the rebuilding of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after its sudden collapse.

Congressional lawmakers are expected to move quickly on an anticipated supplemental spending request to cover at least part of rebuilding the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore following the collapse Tuesday, Fox News has learned. 

It may take time to determine how much such a project would cost and what the exact needs will be.  

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early Tuesday morning after a container ship crashed into one of the major bridge supports. In years past, Congress has acted quickly to commit funding to collapsed bridge and infrastructure catastrophes.

Congress moved expeditiously after the deadly collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis in 2007, when 13 people died and 145 were injured. The House unanimously fast-tracked a bill approving a quarter of a billion dollars to rebuild the bridge just two days after the collapse. The vote was 421-0. The Senate then approved a slightly different version by unanimous consent. The House then took the Senate version, approving that measure by unanimous consent. All told, it took a handful of days after the accident to sign money for the new bridge into law.


Emergency appropriations for Tuesday's disaster may not move quite as quickly as they did in 2007, considering the scope of the tragedy and the size of the old Key Bridge.

Congress is currently in recess and only just wrapped up an acrimonious fight over government spending. Democrat Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland in a Tuesday statement offered prayers for those involved in the incident and promised to work with state leaders to "make federal resources available to reopen the Port of Baltimore, redirect critical road traffic, and rebuild the Key Bridge as quickly as possible."

Piling on additional debt – without offsets – could pose a problem in the House, where fiscal hawks are already raging against Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., about the two spending bills. 

However, sources familiar with House operations told Fox that they don’t expect there to be problems moving a bill for emergency bridge funding, even though House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger, R-Texas, recently announced she was giving up her gavel. House Rules Committee Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., is believed to have the inside track to succeed Granger in the coming weeks. 

No one expected the possible need for another appropriations bill so soon after passing spending measures in the early hours Saturday morning. 

After the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed under its own weight in 2007, the rapid action of Congress and President George W. Bush helped speed recovery efforts and reconstruction of the bridge.

Bush's emergency declaration for Minnesota, just days after the bridge collapsed, allowed the state to recover costs from the federal government and begin to remove debris from the scene. 


The late Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., was chairman of the House Transportation Committee at the time. Although the bridge was not in Oberstar’s district, he was able to muscle through an emergency appropriation of $250 million to the state's department of transportation to begin rebuilding the bridge.

The new I-35W bridge opened a little more than a year after the collapse.

Considering the amount of trade that funnels through the Port of Baltimore – to say nothing of traffic and commerce which moved across the Francis Scott Key Bridge as a major east coast artery – it is possible Congress could be called upon to provide funding to rebuild the bridge in record time. 

"Of course it will affect trade," Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., told Fox News Tuesday. "I’m worried about the families and all of the inconvenience that will occur because the bridge is gone. It was such a good link."

Fox News' Thomas Phippen contributed to this story.

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