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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 10, 2002
President Signs Defense Appropriations Bill
1:25 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. At ease. (Laughter.) I always love being introduced by a matinee television idol. (Laughter and applause.) Who would have thought it? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Not my wife.
THE PRESIDENT: Only his mother. (Laughter.) Thanks so much, Mr. Secretary. He's doing a fabulous job, he really is. And so are the men and women who work in this building, and the men and women who wear the uniform. We're really proud of you.
I'm honored to sign this bill because the nation owes the men and women of the military our full measure of respect, and our full measure of support. We owe you decent pay and a decent quality of life. We owe you the best leadership and training. We owe you the best equipment and weaponry. We owe you, our servicemen and women, our best, because we owe you our freedom.
This bill, which includes both this year's defense appropriations, and emergency supplemental spending, keeps the commitment to our military, and keeps the commitments of our country. It was passed with bipartisan support in the Congress. It will be implemented by this fine Secretary, and a fine Deputy Secretary in Paul Wolfowitz.
As Commander-in-Chief, I'm really proud to sign this bill here in the Pentagon. It shows that at an hour when freedom was under attack, America is steady, and standing tall, in freedom's defense. I, too, want to thank the members of the United States Congress who are here, particularly Chairman Bill Young. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for coming. (Applause.) Senator Dorgan, I appreciate you being here, sir. Rodney, thank you for coming, and Jim and George. I guess you're supposed to be formal with the Senate, and informal with the House. But thank you all for taking time to be here. It's a kind gesture for you to come.
I also want to thank the members of the Joint Chiefs and the leadership of our military who are on the stage with me here. Dick Myers is doing a fabulous job. He is steady, he is strong. He sets such an important signal throughout our military that we mean business. We're a no-nonsense group of people who have got one thing in mind, and that is victory. (Applause.)
I remember talking about our plans with the Secretary and others in my administration. And as we set our plans, there was no question that our military was ready. The Secretary made that clear, Dick Myers, made that clear, Hugh Shelton made that clear. And since September the 11th, the skill, the daring and the courage of our men and women in uniform is now clear to all. It's clear to your fellow Americans, and it's clear to those who try to hide in caves.
We have liberated a nation from oppression. And we've saved many people from starvation. I'd like to remind my fellow Americans there is nothing more joyous to my heart than to see our military liberate women who have lived under the most oppressive regime in the history of mankind. This cause is noble, and this cause is just. And we will stay on this cause until we have achieved our objective. You're delivering justice; not revenge, but justice, to agents of terror. And you're making this nation proud.
America recently has been reminded that in our quest to defend freedom -- and really in our quest to save civilization -- there are enormous sacrifices, and to no more greater sacrifice than loss of life. And like the Secretary, I extend my prayers and sympathies to the moms and dads and the wives and sons and daughters of those who have lost their life.
But as I told the young lady the other day when I called her, whose husband had died, I said, please tell your children that he died for a just cause. Sacrifices are made willingly by volunteers. And having traveled our nation a little bit, I can assure you, you're in the midst of a grateful people.
In our global campaign against global terror, our military must have every resource, every tool, every weapon, and every advantage you need for the missions to come.
The bill I'm about to sign makes a down-payment on essential commitment. We will give our forces everything they need to defeat global terror. Overall, this year's defense bill provides nearly $30 billion more than the amount enacted for the Fiscal Year 2001. The emergency supplemental measure provides another $3.5 billion on top of that.
Yet, even more important than these numbers are the priorities they represent. First of all, the bill contains funding for pay increases of up to 15 percent for service members, with an average increase of 6.9 percent. The bill reduces out-of-pocket housing costs from 15 percent to 11 percent, and puts us on a track towards eliminating this burden altogether by the year 2005. In addition, the bill also fully funds the health care of active duty members and their families, and provides $3.9 billion for health care benefits for military retirees over 65, and their families.
We can never pay our men and women in uniform on a scale that matches the magnitude of their sacrifice. But this bill reflects our respect for your selfless service. Today, more than ever, we also owe those in uniform the resources they need to maintain a very high state of readiness. Our enemies rely upon surprise and deception. They used to reply upon the fact that they thought we were soft. I don't think they think that way anymore. (Applause.)
Our forces must be ready to deploy to any point on the globe on short notice. This bill increases operation and maintenance by over $8 billion. This nation must have, and will have, ready forces that can bring victory to our country, and safety to our people. The world's best soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines also deserve the world's best weaponry. To ensure that, our nation must invest in procurement accounts. This defense bill contains about $61 billion for procurement.
This nation must give our military the weapons it needs to meet the threats of our future. If the war against terror means that we must find terror wherever it exists, and pull it out by its roots, and bring people to justice, our military must have the means to achieve the objective.
This bill is just the beginning to make sure that that happens. Our nation must also look even farther into the future, so that the next generations of weaponry take advantage of our nation's decisive technological edge. That's why I'm pleased to see that this year's defense bill contains almost $50 billion for research and development, including nearly $8 billion for missile defense.
My administration is committed to transforming our forces, with innovative doctrine and strategy and weaponry. This will allow us to revolutionize the battlefield of the future, and to keep the peace by defining war on our terms. This is a great goal and it's a great opportunity, one granted to few nations in history. And with the leadership of the Secretary, we will seize this opportunity.
And finally, I'm pleased that the emergency supplemental funding in this bill is going to allow us to meet some of our urgent priorities. In addition to the $3.5 billion to help prosecute the war on terror, the bill contains $8.2 billion to help New York, Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania recover from the attacks by the evil ones. It also devotes an additional $8.4 billion to homeland security.
We're working hard to make sure that our homeland is secure. But the best way to secure America's future is to bring the terrorists to justice, and to say to those who think they can hide them, you, too, are just as guilty as the murderers if you think you can hide them, and provide them aid, and provide them comfort. We will build the security of America by fighting our enemies abroad, and protecting our folks here at home. And we are committed, this administration, and the Congress, is committed to these most important goals.
These are good bills that will help America in time of need. And I appreciate the spirit on Capitol Hill that led to its passage. I look forward to working with the Congress, as we build our nation's strength and security. I look forward to working for next year's budget, with the priorities of winning this war, and defending our homeland. I'm confident that the spirit that prevailed in late fall will spill over into this year, as we continue to remember the great goals that face this nation.
It is now my honor, in the heart -- the headquarters of the greatest military in the world, to sign the Department of Defense and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act. Thank you all for your hospitality. Stay on course. Find the enemy. (Applause.) God bless. (Applause.)
(The act is signed.)
END 1:38 P.M. EST