Community members have created a makeshift memorial near Fort Armistead Park for victims of the bridge collapse in Baltimore.

Community members have created a makeshift memorial near Fort Armistead Park for victims of the bridge collapse in Baltimore. (Hadley Green/The Washington Post)

Mexican officials announced that the body of Carlos Daniel Hernández, one of the construction workers killed last month when the Dali container ship crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, was recovered from the Patapsco River over the weekend.

Hernández is the fourth person who died in the collapse to be pulled from the submerged wreckage since the crash on March 26, which destroyed one of Baltimore’s key commuting routes, temporarily shuttered the Port of Baltimore and left six people dead.

A total of eight people were working construction on the bridge at the time it crumpled. Two survived; two have not yet been found.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) has said since the crash that returning the bodies of those who died is a top priority of local and state officials, who are juggling a complex set of tasks - including removing thousands of tons of debris and wreckage that fell into the river.

He emphasized that message again during a Tuesday afternoon news conference, during which he and a host of Maryland’s Republican lawmakers vowed continued support to the victims’ families as part of a unified, bipartisan response to the Key Bridge crisis.

“Our state has been grieving for three weeks,” Moore said. “But for these families, I know it has felt like an eternity.”

So far, the bodies of Maynor Suazo Sandoval, Dorlian Castillo Cabrera, Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes and Hernández have been recovered. Miguel Luna and José López are still missing. Unified Command officials first announced Monday that a fourth victim had been recovered from the river but did not name the person, citing a request from his family. But on the social media platform X hours later, Mexican officials identified the person as Hernández.

Alicia Bárcena, Mexico’s secretary of exterior relations, named Hernández in a post and said he “represents our Mexican workers in the U.S.” In a separate post on X, Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said officials will continue to provide direct support to the family of Hernández and the other Key Bridge victims who were Mexican nationals.

At Tuesday’s news conference - a strategically orchestrated demonstration of cross-aisle collaboration - Moore invited former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich (R) and state Sen. Johnny Ray Salling (R-Baltimore County) to discuss how state lawmakers and government agencies in the state, regardless of political party, have worked together in the three weeks since the Key Bridge fell.

“We’re here for one reason,” said Salling, who co-sponsored the Maryland General Assembly’s emergency Port Act. “We’re here for you.”

Salling joined Moore and Ehrlich in making a direct appeal to members of Congress, who will decide how much federal money will go toward rebuilding the Key Bridge. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) introduced legislation last week to authorize the federal government to cover the full cost of rebuilding the bridge.

Lawmakers from Maryland specifically structured their funding bill without requesting a specific dollar amount, allowing the state to take in unlimited sums in federal resources, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told The Washington Post on Tuesday.

Under the Federal Highway Administration’s emergency relief fund, the federal government will pay for 90 percent of the Key Bridge rebuilding effort, and Maryland will pay for the remaining 10 percent. But the legislation introduced last week by the state’s delegation - to broad bipartisan support across Congress - would waive Maryland’s 10 percent contribution.

Crucially, Van Hollen said, the bill asks only for that waiver and not a specific sum of money, which would permit the state to accept vast amounts of federal dollars while rebuilding a bridge that has new safety features and allows bigger ships to pass beneath it to the Port of Baltimore.

“What we’re looking for is an authorization, not an appropriation,” Van Hollen said. “They’ll adopt new standards, new technology; they’re talking about heightening the bridge, as you would expect. When you’re building a new bridge, you build it differently than in the 1970s.”

Van Hollen said he and Cardin have begun discussing paths to pass the legislation through the upper chamber. The Senate needs to consider a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration in the coming weeks; that measure could be a larger vehicle for other must-pass provisions, including aid for Maryland, Van Hollen said.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) urged Maryland to be patient in its damage and rebuilding assessment, and said he supports providing money for Baltimore.

It can take state and federal government officials months to determine the full scope of damage after a disaster, Cole told reporters Monday. If states rush to shove a disaster spending bill through Congress, they could be leaving money on the table. “If I was Maryland, I would make sure you do a thorough assessment,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of these things over the years. … Just take your time. The federal government is going to do its part in terms of providing debris removal, cleanup and emergency relief. Let’s just make sure we get it right, so we go forward with something that is robust and full.”

The federal highway relief program has already provided Maryland with $60 million to help divert traffic from the roadway and assist other highways that are absorbing the nearly 30,000 vehicles that traversed the bridge each day.

The relief fund will reimburse Maryland for work the state completes on the Key Bridge project. The Army Corps of Engineers is covering the full cost of removing the tons of debris blocking the shipping channel.

Both accounts probably will need additional congressional funding in the months ahead. The federal highway fund has $890 million on hand with a $2.1 billion backlog of projects, according to data obtained by The Post. That backlog does not include Baltimore, which could need several billion dollars for a new bridge.

It’s not clear whether the Biden administration will face any serious blockades to funding from congressional Republicans. The conservative House Freedom Caucus said in early April that it would condition federal aid on several factors, including cutting the federal budget elsewhere. In talks about funding, several members of Congress have emphasized the importance of reimbursing taxpayers if they are asked to foot the bill for this disaster - including seeking full accountability through the courts for any liability or wrongdoing from the companies that own and operate the Dali.

On Monday, The Post reported that the FBI had opened a criminal investigation into the crash, which two U.S. officials said would focus at least in part on whether the crew of the container ship left the Port of Baltimore knowing the vessel had serious systems issues.

Several of the victims’ families have retained private attorneys to represent them in court, and the city of Baltimore also announced this week that it had retained two law firms to work with the city’s law department to pursue legal action.

Samantha Schmidt contributed to this report.

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