The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 15, 2008

President Bush Meets with Bicameral Republican Leadership
Oval Office

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8:55 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: This morning I spoke to the president of Northern Illinois University. I told the president that a lot of folks today would be praying for the families of the victims, and for the Northern Illinois University community. Obviously a tragic situation on that campus, and I ask our fellow citizens to offer their blessings -- blessings of comfort and blessings of strength.

We also just discussed a serious problem facing our country, and that is the fact that House leaders blocked a good piece of legislation that would give our intelligence community the tools they need to protect America from a terrorist attack.

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney meet with the Bicameral Republican leadership Friday, Feb. 15, 2008, in the Oval Office. White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian The American citizens must understand -- clearly understand that there still is a threat on the homeland, there's still an enemy which would like to do us harm, and that we've got to give our professionals the tools they need to be able to figure out what the enemy is up to so that we can stop it.

The Senate passed a good bipartisan bill that makes sure our intelligence community has the tools necessary to protect America from this real threat -- and I want to thank you all, and thank the Democrats in the United States Senate who worked closely with Mitch and John to get a strong piece of legislation, with a 68-vote majority, out of the Senate.

And this bill comes to the House of Representatives and it was blocked. And by blocking this piece of legislation our country is more in danger of an attack. By not giving the professionals the tools they need, it's going to be a lot harder to do the job we need to be able to defend America.

People say, oh, it doesn't matter if this law hasn't been renewed -- it does matter. It matters for a variety of reasons. It matters because the intelligence officials won't have tools necessary to get as much information as we possibly can to protect you. And it matters because these telephone companies that work collaboratively with us to protect the American people are afraid they're going to get sued.

And the American people have got to understand these lawsuits make it harder for us to convince people to help protect you. And so by blocking this good piece of legislation, our professionals tell me that they don't have all the tools they need to do their job.

And so now the House and Senate are off on a 12-day recess without getting the people's business done. And when they come back from that 12-day recess, the House leaders must understand that the decision they made to block good legislation has made it harder for us to protect you, the American people, and we expect them to get a good bill to my desk -- which is the Senate bill -- as soon as possible.

Thank you.

END 8:59 A.M. EST


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