ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A spending bill for the U.S. Department of the Interior is loaded with about $100 million in financial earmarks for Alaska.
That includes $9 million for the Alaska Railroad to clean up a fuel spill caused by an avalanche last winter, $7.5 million for spruce bark beetle work around the Kenai Peninsula Borough, $5 million apiece for land trades at Kake and Craig, $5 million to boost timber preparation in the Tongass National Forest, $1.5 million to buy mining claims in the Wrangell-St.Elias National Park and $5 million for staff housing at the Bethel hospital.
A provision for a $176,000 reindeer processing plant at Teller drew scorn from Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. He condemned the spending package for containing an unparalleled amount of pork barrel spending.
The $176,000 is coming out of the Bureau of Indian Affairs budget at the same time Lower 48 Indian reservations are struggling to replace dilapidated housing, McCain said.
''I am sure Santa Claus will be pleased,'' McCain said.
Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, inserted the spending earmarks. He didn't respond to McCain's comments.
But Stevens has said in the past he's using his position as Appropriations Committee chairman to identify federal programs from which Alaskans have been excluded and that economic development is a particular priority.
The measure has cleared the House and the Senate and has been sent to President Clinton for his signature.
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