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The Biden administration is slated to decide on a package to help rebuild the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore

Republicans rebuffed Baltimore bridge funding request in FAA bill

News: Republican congressional leaders stifled an attempt by the White House and Hill Democrats to include a federal cost-sharing measure for the Baltimore bridge disaster as part of the FAA reauthorization bill, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

The White House has yet to send Congress an official funding request to cover the cost of the deadly Francis Scott Key Bridge accident. The 47-year-old bridge collapsed after it was struck by a cargo ship on March 26. Six workers were killed in the accident.

GOP leadership aides noted that because Maryland state officials are still working on a cost estimate for the rebuild, it would be premature to green-light a federal cost share.

Republicans also argued that a cost share is unnecessary at this time because the Federal Highway Administration’s emergency relief program already allows for a 100% federal cost share for the first 270 days. Republicans say they’re open to a full federal cost share, but “at the appropriate time.”

“It is premature to pass the 100% cost share because 90% of nothing is still nothing,” a GOP leadership aide noted. “We don’t need to change the cost share until the White House requests funding that would [require] state cost-share.”

A Democratic aide pushed back, saying the 100% cost share during the first 270 days doesn’t apply to rebuilding costs, meaning the state government would need to contribute.

“We believe it is necessary to provide the certainty of the full federal funding authorization as soon as possible as Maryland begins the process to replace the bridge, and are continuing to work to answer any questions members have about Maryland’s plans going forward,” the aide added.

Maryland lawmakers introduced legislation earlier this month that would guarantee full federal funding for the bridge’s reconstruction. President Joe Biden has also called for it. Under existing law, after 270 days, the federal government covers 90% of the rebuilding effort, leaving the state with 10% of the burden.

The Maryland state government got an initial $60 million from the federal government a few days after the bridge collapse.

One more thing: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will introduce a Congressional Review Act resolution designed to head off a new permitting rule under the National Environmental Policy Act from the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Instead, Manchin wants permitting reform provisions from last year’s Fiscal Responsibility Act implemented. Here’s a statement from Manchin:

It’s the second time in a week that Manchin has gone after the Biden administration over its environmental rulemaking.

Last week, Manchin — who is retiring at the end of this Congress — blasted a new EPA rule mandating drastic emissions cuts by coal and natural gas power plants. Manchin said the Biden administration’s “goal is simple: death by a thousand cuts to America’s fossil fuel industry, especially coal.” Manchin chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

— Andrew Desiderio, John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.