Sen. Ted Stevens said he intends to testify at his federal corruption trial, which begins with jury selection Monday, but he said the final decision will be up to his lawyers.
Stevens spoke briefly about the trial with reporters Friday in Anchorage while talking about defense spending in Alaska, the tanking economy and his plans for the next two months.
The Republican senator is running for re-election even as he's scheduled to defend himself against seven federal counts of failing to report gifts from the Veco Corp. He said he plans to return to Alaska several times in October, but he will have to be back in D.C. a day before scheduled court appearances.
The coming week will be a busy one for Congress, he said. "I intend to go from the court to the Senate and be there every afternoon, evening."
Stevens listed several Alaska projects in the defense spending bill now before Congress, including:
$10 million to plan for a "coal-to-liquids facility" at Eielson Air Force Base. The idea is to convert coal into aviation fuel.
$16 million for a "C-17 assault landing zone" at Fort Greely. Stevens said the landing zone would be used by the cargo aircraft in emergencies.
$10 million to "continue the modernization and expansion" of the Port of Anchorage.
The Hill, a Washington newspaper, reported this week that Stevens topped the list of Senators with the most earmarks in the defense appropriations bill with a total of about $215 million in spending.
The Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, and running mate Gov. Sarah Palin, have criticized some earmarks on the campaign trail. But Stevens defended the military spending in Alaska -- it's been part of his campaign message -- as necessary and forward-thinking.
"Six of the seven largest armies in the world are in fact Pacific nations. We are going to see a buildup in this state to keep us prepared to deal with the contingencies of this century," he said.
Stevens spent much of the press conference on the larger political story this week -- the teetering global economy.
"I think we're on the precipice of a meltdown," he said.
As the Bush administration announced plans for a massive bailout that would see the federal government taking over worthless mortgages and bad debt, Stevens said questions of what to do with the economy has the potential to engulf Congress.
He said he'd recently participated in a teleconference with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who described the Bush administration's plans. Stevens said he expected the plan to be controversial but that Paulson "fairly well convinced me this situation has reached the point where you either do something now, or wait for something worse."
Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, Stevens' Democratic opponent in the Nov. 4 election, said Friday that the country's economic woes can be traced to the door of Congress and its lack of oversight.
"Now we're in a crisis mode, and I'm glad to see it seems on the surface they're going to work in a bi-partisan way to hit this issue head on," Begich said.
"But because they waited so long and because they weren't paying attention, taxpayers are going to pay a lot of money for this."
Stevens planned to return to Washington D.C. today.
"I expect to be home several times in October, and I pray to God that we're finished by November."
Find Kyle Hopkins' political blog online at adn.com/alaskapolitics or call him at 257-4334.