GOP Lawmakers Want Energy Ban Lifted In Exchange For Bridge Funding

The House Freedom Caucus recently unveiled a list of demands to earn support for funding the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, calling on the Biden administration to lift its ban on natural gas exports.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus revealed their wishes on the same day President Joe Biden traveled to Baltimore, where he said that the federal government would cover the cost of rebuilding the bridge, which costs billions.

The caucus wants House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to take up their demands, considering Republicans’ narrow razor-thin majority in the House.

GOP lawmakers are pressing the Biden administration to lift natural gas export bans, which are wildly unpopular among Republicans.

In a statement, the lawmakers pointed out that the House would not support funding to rebuild the Francis Scott Key Bridge unless the president lifts his administration’s pause on natural gas export terminals.

“The Biden administration’s pause on approvals of liquified natural gas export terminals, which, like the Baltimore harbor closure, has severe implications for foreign trade, must be lifted before Congress considers appropriating any funding for the bridge reconstruction,” the lawmakers wrote.

Such demands could put Biden, who promised to move “heaven and Earth” to rebuild the Baltimore bridge, in a predicament.

The House Freedom Caucus also called for the Singapore-based company that owns the cargo ship Dali, responsible for the collapse by running into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, to face consequences.

If Maryland’s state government is unable to cover the cost of rebuilding the bridge and Congress must approve funding, Republicans want to ensure that the funding is paid for and the scheme can circumvent regulations, such as the Endangered Species Act.

“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 lawmakers said.

Considerations for funds to rebuild the bridge could take time because of Congress’ tough schedule when it returns to session on April 9, 2024. The Senate’s impeachment trial of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is scheduled to begin soon while the House prepares to make a move on sending further aid to Ukraine.