The White House

President’s Radio Address on U.S. Attorneys and Funding for Troops

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. The position of U.S. Attorney is one of the most important jobs in the Justice Department. U.S. Attorneys are appointed by the President, and they play a leading role in prosecuting crime and protecting the public.

In recent months, the Justice Department determined that new leadership in several of these positions would better serve the country. I strongly support the Attorney General in this decision. I also appreciate the hard work and service of the U.S. Attorneys who resigned. And I regret that their resignations have turned into a public spectacle.

Earlier this week, my Administration presented to Congress a reasonable way forward that balances the constitutional prerogatives of the Presidency with Congress’s interest in learning more facts behind the decision to replace eight of the 93 U.S. Attorneys.

Members of Congress now face a choice: whether they will waste time and provoke an unnecessary confrontation, or whether they will join us in working to do the people’s business. We have many important issues before us. So we need to put partisan politics aside and come together to enact important legislation for the American people.

One of the most urgent legislative priorities is to fund our troops fighting the war on terror. I’ve asked Congress to pass an emergency war spending bill that gives our troops what they need, without strings and without delay. Instead, a narrow majority in the House of Representatives decided yesterday to make a political statement. The emergency war spending bill they voted for would cut the number of troops below the level our military commanders say they need to accomplish the mission. It would set an artificial timetable for withdrawal that would allow the enemy to wait us out. And it would require an army of lawyers to meet the conditions imposed by politicians in Washington who are substituting their own judgment for that of our generals in Iraq. I have made it clear that I will veto any such bill, and it is clear that my veto would be sustained.

To get the votes they needed to pass the bill, the Democrats who control the House also included billions of dollars in domestic and pork barrel spending for local congressional districts. This spending includes things like $74 million for peanut storage, $25 million for spinach growers, and a host of other spending items that have nothing to do with the war. Even with all this extra spending tacked on, the vote in the House was very close. This means that the Democrats do not have enough votes to override my veto.

By choosing to make a political statement and passing a bill they know will never become law, the Democrats in Congress have only delayed the delivery of the vital funds and resources our troops need. The clock is running. The Secretary of Defense has warned that if Congress does not approve the emergency funding for our troops by April 15, our men and women in uniform will face significant disruptions — and so will their families. April 15 is also about the same time that Congress returns from its Easter vacation. Members of Congress need to put our troops first, not politics. They need to send me a clean bill, without conditions, without restrictions, and without pork.

This is an important moment for our Nation, and it is an important moment for the new Congress. My Administration has presented a reasonable way forward on the matter of U.S. Attorneys, and on ensuring that our men and women in uniform have the funds and the flexibility they need to win in Iraq. It is not too late for us to work together. For the good of our Nation, I ask the Democratic leaders in Congress to seize the opportunity before us and move beyond political statements to bipartisan action.

Thank you for listening.


Bush Urges Congress to Pass Emergency
War Spending Bill Without Strings

By Steven Donald Smith

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2007 — It is vital Congress pass an emergency war spending bill as soon as possible and without strings attached, President Bush said during his weekly radio address.

“In times of war, Congress has no greater obligation than funding our warfighters,” Bush said. “The purpose of this legislation should be to give our troops on the front lines the resources, funds and equipment they need to fight our enemies.

Bush submitted a defense budget request February 5 that includes a $93.4 billion emergency supplemental measure to cover the cost of operations in the war on terror for fiscal 2007. Congress subsequently added several additional spending measures to the bill. Bush said some members of Congress are using the bill as an opportunity to micromanage military commanders and force a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, while spending billions on domestic projects that have nothing to do with the war on terror.

U.S. troops “urgently” need the emergency funds as they step up the new security strategy in Iraq, he said. The new strategy, under the leadership of Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, is still in its early stages, yet signs of progress are already being seen, Bush said.

“Iraqi and American troops have rounded up more than 700 people affiliated with Shia extremists,” he said. “They’ve also launched aggressive operations against Sunni extremists. And they’ve uncovered large caches of weapons that could have been used to kill our troops.”

Bush said the bill Congress is now considering would undermine Petraeus and the troops under his command just as these critical security operations are getting under way. The bill would impose restrictive conditions on the use of war funds and require the withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of this year if these conditions are not met, he said.

“These restrictions would handcuff our generals in the field by denying them the flexibility they need to adjust their operations to the changing situation on the ground,” Bush said. “And these restrictions would substitute the mandates of Congress for the considered judgment of our military commanders.”

The consequences of imposing an artificial timetable would be disastrous, he added.
Bush said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said it best when he told Congress setting a fixed date to withdraw would “essentially tell [the enemy] how long they would have to wait until we’re gone.”

The scale and scope of insurgent attacks would increase and intensify if U.S. troops were forced to step back from Baghdad before it is more secure, he said. This could in turn cause more violence to spill out across the entire country, and possibly the entire region, he said. “The enemy would emerge from the chaos emboldened with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America,” he said.

Another damaging aspect of the bill would be funding cuts for the Iraqi security forces if Iraqi leaders do not meet rigid conditions, Bush said. “Members of Congress have often said that the Iraqis must step forward and take more responsibility for their own security,” he said. ”Yet members of Congress can’t have it both ways: They can’t say that the Iraqis must do more and then take away the funds that will help them do so.”

The additional domestic spending components of the bill include, $74 million for peanut storage, $48 million for the Farm Service Agency and $35 million for NASA, Bush said. “These programs do not belong in an emergency war spending bill,” he said.

The president said he would veto a bill that contains such measures. “Many in Congress say they support the troops, and I believe them,” he said. “Now they have a chance to show that support in deed, as well as in word.”