Representative Cole Confident Congress Will Provide Funding Needed To Rebuild Baltimore Bridge

The first massive crane arrived on Friday on the Patapsco River in Baltimore to begin the lengthy, and costly, process of removing the wreckage of the Key Bridge, reopening the port, and ultimately rebuilding the bridge. One member of the Oklahoma delegation will be more involved than most in determining how much of that cost is shouldered by taxpayers.

Friday, March 29th 2024, 5:32 pm



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The first massive crane arrived on Friday on the Patapsco River in Baltimore to begin the lengthy, and costly, process of removing the wreckage of the Key Bridge, reopening the port, and ultimately rebuilding the bridge. One member of the Oklahoma delegation will be more involved than most in determining how much of that cost is shouldered by taxpayers.

Representative Tom Cole is the number two Republican on the House Appropriations Committee and chairs its transportation subcommittee. So, President Biden’s promise to work with Congress to make sure the federal government pays the full cost of rebuilding means working with Cole and his colleagues.

"At the end of the day, we write the check out of our committee," said Cole (R-OK4) in an interview Friday, "so we’ll have a lot to say about it."

What Congressman Cole is saying right now is that everyone feels for the people of Baltimore and that helping out in these situations is simply what the federal government does.

"We’ve certainly received help during tornadoes and disasters in Oklahoma," Cole noted. "The Oklahoma City bombing is another good example where we got a lot of federal help, so we’re going to be sympathetic, we’re going to work with the administration and local officials."

Emergency funds are already being used to get the difficult process of clearing the channel underway. Federal officials at the scene explained Friday that the first step, which must be very carefully engineered, is the removal of the massive section of bridge lying on top of the Dali, the ship that hit the bridge.

"The steel that you see behind us, it goes all the way to the bottom of this 50-foot channel," said Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon with the US Army Corps of Engineers, "so all of that steel has to be safely cut and removed."

The sooner, the better.

Cole says the Port of Baltimore may not be the busiest in America, but it handles a lot of goods that Oklahomans rely on.

"It’s actually the number one port for the import and export of automobiles in the United States," said Cole. "It’s very important for agricultural machinery, and it’s a very important export port for food products."

Still, in this era of bitterly divided government and soaring national debt, some are already politicizing the incident. But Cole believes, in the end, members will put their differences aside and do what's needed.

"I don’t suspect this will become a matter of partisan contention."

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