Mr. Stevens Goes to Washington
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often happens in these matters, the King Cove road showed up as
a Stevens rider on an appropriations bill and resolving the impasse
turned critical; if Congress was to send the Interior Department
a 1999 budget to keep its doors from closing, the road issue had
to be settled. King Cove residents were prepared to build the road
at their expense; all they wanted was a land trade so that they
could cut the road through the refuge.
McGinty, then the head of the White House Council on Environmental
Quality, trekked into Stevens' ornate appropriations committee office
on the first floor of the Capitol with an offer from the president
that the administration thought looked pretty good. If Stevens would
yank the rider, the White House would see to it that medical emergencies
would never be a problem in King Cove again because a fully staffed
medical clinic would be built there.
flatly rejected McGinty's offer, saying he was prepared to fight
the issue all the way to the Oval Office unless the administration
got serious about a road. A few days later, Erskine Bowles, then
Clinton's chief of staff, called on Stevens in an effort to settle
the issue. Bowles pulled out a paper and read from a list of three
options. The administration would do the clinic. If that wasn't
acceptable, it would build a year-round airport in King Cove. And
if that still was not acceptable, the administration would finance
a new road or ferry system that skirted the refuge.
take them all," Stevens snapped.
Bowles accepted. King Cove would get $20 million for a new road,
$15 million for a new airport and $2.5 million for a medical clinic
outfitted with the most modern telemedicine equipment available.
Stevens: "I don't like to be in the position of defending $37.5
million being spent. But if that is what it takes to help our people,
that is the way it has to be."