For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 3, 2002
Radio Address by the President to the Nation
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. We've had a month of accomplishment in Washington. Congress acted on several important proposals to strengthen our national security and our homeland security and our economic security. Republicans and Democrats worked in a spirit of unity and purpose that I hope to see more of in the fall.
I requested more money for our military and for our homeland security, and Congress provided crucial funding to continue military operations, to train and equip medics, police officers and firefighters around America, and to support the Coast Guard operations that protect our ports and coasts.
I proposed tough new standards for corporate executives and accountants, and increased penalties for fraud and abuse. Congress responded with strong corporate accountability reforms, which I signed into law on Tuesday. And we are rigorously enforcing the laws against corporate crimes with new arrests just this week.
For nearly a year and a half, I've been pressing Congress for trade promotion authority so I can aggressively push for open trade with other nations. This week, the Senate followed the lead of the House by giving me that authority, which I will sign into law next week. Expanded trade will mean more business for America's farmers and ranchers and manufacturers, better buys for American consumers, and good jobs for America's workers. Together, we made significant progress on national priorities.
Yet, when Congress returns from its summer recess, important work remains. In march, I urged Congress in a time of war to pass the defense budget first. After four months, the House and the Senate have acted on their own bills -- but they have not sent me a final bill that works out their differences. When the Congress returns in September, its first priority should be to complete the defense budget so our military can plan for, and pay for, the war on terror and all the missions that lie ahead.
The Senate should also act quickly to pass a bill authorizing the new Department of Homeland Security, which it failed to do before the recess. This department will consolidate dozens of federal agencies charged with protecting our homeland, giving them one main focus: protecting the American people.
And when we create this department, the new Secretary of Homeland Security will need the freedom and flexibility to respond to threats by getting the right people into the right jobs at the right time -- without a lot of bureaucratic hurdles.
The Senate must understand that the protection of our homeland is much more important than the narrow politics of special interests. Congress should also act to strengthen the economic security of all Americans. The Senate must pass reforms to protect workers' savings and investments; and reform Medicare to include prescription drug benefits. Both Houses must reach a consensus on final terrorism insurance legislation, to spur building projects and create construction jobs.
And they must agree on a comprehensive energy bill that will increase production and promote conservation and reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources. And as we work to strengthen America's economy, we must remember Americans who are struggling. The Senate should follow the House's lead and pass welfare reform that encourages work and promotes strong families.
And they should pass legislation to promote the vital work of private and religious charities, and helping disadvantaged children and people struggling with addiction, the homeless and many others.
I know in the fall of an election year the tendency is to focus more on scoring political points than on making progress. I hope the Congress will reject this approach. In the last month we've proven how much we can get done when everyone in Washington works together on behalf of the American people. Come September, I look forward to working with the Republicans and Democrats to build on that progress.
Thank you for listening.