By Susan Dudley Gold
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S. hostages being held in Iran. Muskie’s Senate colleagues and others dubbed him Mr. Clean, partly for his work on the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and partly for his reputation for integrity. One of the senator’s greatest joys—according to his chief of staff Leon Billings, who helped draft both bills—was that he lived long enough to see salmon and trout come back to his favorite fishing holes in Maine. Their return, Billings noted, was a direct result of Muskie’s own efforts to get the Clean Water Act passed.
Sewage dumped in the Hudson River and sludge from sewage-treatment plants deposited offshore ended up in the bay and contaminated its waters with bacteria. The area had been closed to commercial shell ishing, but “pirate” diggers still collected clams from the area. This and similar scares encouraged Congress to provide additional funds for treating and controlling waste. In 1961, amendments to the 1956 act increased funding for construction of treatment plants to $60 million in 1962, $90 million in 1963, and $100 million for each of the next four years.
Its majority leader, the Democrat Lyndon Johnson, ruled his party and the Senate with an iron hand. Combining lattery and intimidation, he persuaded Democrats to vote as he instructed them. During one of his irst meetings with Muskie, Johnson told the freshman senator that at times Muskie might not know which way to vote and would decide only when “the clerk . . ” This was Johnson’s way of making it clear that he expected to get Muskie’s vote on an upcoming bill. ” The young senator’s show of independence did not sit well with Johnson.