Watch CBS News

President Biden vows Key Bridge will be rebuilt, grieves with family members of those killed in collapse

President Biden vows Key Bridge will be rebuilt, grieves with family members of those killed in coll
President Biden vows Key Bridge will be rebuilt, grieves with family members of those killed in coll 03:09

BALTIMORE -- President Biden got a firsthand look at the damage from the Key Bridge collapse with an aerial tour from Marine One Friday afternoon. 

His visit comes 10 days after the collapse of the Key Bridge. 

In public remarks overlooking the disaster site in Dundalk, the president again vowed to move "heaven and earth" to remove the damage and promised to rebuild the Key Bridge with federal funds.

"Your nation has your back, and I mean it," Biden said.

The president met with first responders and received a briefing from the Unified Command. 

"From the air, I saw a bridge that's been ripped apart, but here on the ground, I see a community that's been pulled together," he said. 

Biden met privately with the families of the six construction workers who lost their lives. 

"The damage is devastating, and our hearts are still breaking," the president said. 

He noted, "Most were immigrants but all were Marylanders, hardworking, strong and selfless."

Biden shared his personal experiences dealing with grief.  "To all the families of loved ones grieving, I've come here to grieve with you. We all are."

The president said, "It's a feeling like you have a black hole in your chest, like you're being sucked in and unable to breathe—the anger, the pain, the depth of the loss is so profound."

The federal government has already authorized $60 million in funds for the initial response, seen as a down payment, with more federal funds to come. Some must be approved by Congress for a disaster that could run into the billions. 

On Friday morning, Governor Wes Moore authorized millions to assist workers and businesses.

Some House Republicans with the Freedom Caucus balked at a blank check for recovery efforts. 

"If it proves necessary to appropriate taxpayer money to get one of America's busiest ports back online, Congress should ensure it is fully offset and that burdensome regulations (such as NEPA, the Endangered Species Act, the Davis Bacon Act, project labor agreements, etc.) are waived to avoid all unnecessary delays and costs," said a statement from the Freedom Caucus. "Furthermore, this funding must be limited to physical structure repairs with a federal nexus—this must not become a pork-filled bill loaded with unrelated projects and the House of Representatives must adhere to the 'single subject' rule."

The owners of the Dali have asked that liability be capped at the value of the ship, a little more than $43 million. 

"My administration is committed—absolutely committed—that the parties responsible for this tragedy pay to repair the damage and be held accountable to the fullest extent the law will allow," Biden said Friday. 

New video released by the Unified Command showed a diver heading into the Patapsco River where visibility is low and they must be guided by crews above the water. 

On Thursday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the first timeline for reopening the main 50-foot channel where the Dali remains stuck and resume operations at the Port of Baltimore—aiming to do so by the end of May.

A new 35-foot channel is expected to open by the end of this month, allowing bigger vessels to pass.

Two shallower emergency channels are already open. 

The White House confirmed top advisors to the president including Chief of Staff Jeffrey Zientz have personally called some employers in the Baltimore area impacted by the Port's closure asking them not to lay people off. 

"Amazon, Home Depot, Domino Sugar and many other companies all rely on this port, and they have committed to keep workers on payrolls and their businesses in Baltimore," the president said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.