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U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg Delivers Remarks at the Port of Baltimore Reopening Press Conference

Wednesday, June 12, 2024
"[5:14 PM] Lopez-Sandoval, Elizabeth (OST) Secretary Buttigieg speaks at the press conference marking the reopening of the Port of Baltimore"
Secretary Buttigieg speaks at the press conference marking the reopening of the Port of Baltimore

BALTIMORE – Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joined Maryland Governor Wes Moore, White House Senior Advisor Tom Perez, and local officials at the Port of Baltimore’s Dundalk Marine Terminal to mark its full reopening, less than 12 weeks after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.  

During Secretary Buttigieg’s remarks he highlighted the unprecedented whole-of-government response led by President Joe Biden and the Administration’s commitment to support the bridge rebuild and the workers, community, and economy of the region.  

The full transcript of Secretary Buttigieg’s remarks are below:   

Thank you, Governor, and good afternoon.  

It is a full circle moment. We've been thinking about this moment and working toward this moment since the Governor and I had that first conversation—in the literally and figuratively dark hours of that morning.  

And Governor Moore has led with clarity, with compassion, and with purpose, and that leadership is such a huge part of why we were able to mark this occasion today.  

You are fortunate to have the leadership that you do here in the state of Maryland. 

Likewise, I want to thank and recognize and praise all of the different organizations and agencies that came together to be part of this—many of them represented here. 

Mayor Scott, who I know cannot be here, but who was part of this from the first moments, County Executive Johnny Olszewski, the members of the Maryland delegation who, as Governor Moore noted, can't be here because they're doing the work of the American people and the people of Maryland on Capitol Hill as we speak. 

The interagency partners, including the Unified Command, the Coast Guard, the Army Corps, the first responders, and the extraordinary workers of the Port of Baltimore who are here right now. 

You have given us and your community so much to be proud of. 

What happened that early morning of March 26th was horrific. What happened next was inspiring. And it is what happened next and every day since that day that has allowed us to come together and mark and celebrate the fact that, as of today, as of this week, the channel is open, the ships are moving, the terminals are operating, and this great American port is full steam ahead. 

President Biden made clear from that first day in those early hours that the Federal government would do everything that we could to support the city, the county, the state, to get the Port of Baltimore back open and to get that bridge rebuilt.  

And what followed was an embrace of the people of Baltimore by the whole Administration, and really by the whole country, to get this port back open in less than 100 days. 

Our Department of Transportation was proud, to play our role in that teamwork. From the coordination and convening of key players to mitigate the impact of the shock to our national supply chains.  

To the $60 million release of emergency relief funding—a down payment on the work ahead. And the regular consulting we are doing with Secretary Wiedefeld and his outstanding MDOT team on their early work to rebuild that bridge. 

We revised a grant that was in the works to rush funds to Tradepoint Atlantic, a nearby terminal, so they could quickly increase the amount of cargo that they could take in and help them effectively double their capacity to help handle the auto imports and exports while the port was closed.  

We engaged truck drivers and trucking companies, trade associations, food and agriculture stakeholders. Everyone who had a stake in making sure that the port closure could be addressed, and that we got through this as quickly as possible. And I need to acknowledge the ways that the Biden-Harris Administration prepared us to handle a shock to the supply chain, even if we could not have imagined its nature or its proportions in advance. 

We were able to mount that response largely to the work of the White House Supply Chains Disruptions Task Force and the lessons that we learned in recent years—especially from COVID— that put us in a strong place to mitigate the disruptions to our supply chain and economy.  

Through our secure data sharing platform known as FLOW, that was created to deal with COVID, we're able to share data with public and private partners as far away as the Port of Savannah, the Port of New York and New Jersey, giving us a better view of our complex supply chains.  

And today, I am proud to announce that we have a new member joining that partnership: Ports America Chesapeake. 

That news comes at a welcome and important time. As the Port of Baltimore reopens, that transparency is going to be vital for preparing for the next phase. For over two months, crews have worked day and night to get us to today, including with incredibly difficult conditions, at times that made visibility very challenging. 

(Let's resume our program as soon as we know he's taking care of.) 

Thanks, Governor, I said just about everything I came here to say. It does make me reflect on three things we’re noting today: first responders, teamwork, and things working out as you'd hoped. So, in that spirit, glad Ryan's all right. And again, just want to reiterate the huge thanks to everybody who is here. 

People will look back on this moment and the resilience that was shown and the determination of Baltimore to come back stronger than ever. 

My two-and-a-half-year-old daughter asked me about my work, which didn't used to happen, and I was trying to think how to explain what we’d be up to this week, and I said, “Well, I'm helping fix a bridge.” And she said, “So you get the tape?” I said, “No, unfortunately, this one's going to take more than tape. I'm focused on the emergency relief funding.”  

But I think something else that even a child could understand is people coming together to deal with the problem and make things better. 

And that is what this community has shown with remarkable, remarkable resilience.  

And so, in that spirit, I have the pleasure of turning it over to a teammate, a good friend, and a great Marylander, who engages every level of government on behalf of President Biden. Please welcome a great Marylander in Tom Perez.