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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary

Excerpt from the July 10, 2002 Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

Click here for the full transcript

MR. FLEISCHER: And also this afternoon, the President will meet with House and Senate Republican leaders to talk about action on the congressional agenda. As far as that action goes, on March 21st -- 111 days ago -- President Bush asked Congress for emergency funding for our troops in the field and for homeland security. Four months later, Congress has not finished its work on this important measure.

This is deeply troubling. Funding for our troops in the field is running out. Our men and women who are fighting for democracy and freedom in Afghanistan today are running out of funds. Funds for the Transportation Security Administration, specifically aviation security, are also expended. This bill is overdue.

DOD will be unable to meet the last two military pay dates in September, breaking our commitment to the men and women in uniform, unless action is taken. Air Force and Army depots that overhaul aircraft and vehicles won't be able to pay the salaries of civilian personnel and may be forced to furlough some or all of their 35,800 civilian personnel around the country.

In addition, 80 other major Air Force bases will be similarly impacted; 2.5 million veterans may not receive their September monthly disability checks if action is not taken.

And without immediate funding, the USSS Stennis, and aircraft carrier, will not be overhauled as scheduled this month, in July. All of this impacts the readiness of the entire battle group. This deferral, in turn, would disrupt the planned 2002-2003 naval deployments worldwide.

This is a very serious matter. The Transportation Security Administration has already required two emergency transfers just to stay afloat. Secretary Mineta has told Congress on June 27th that without Congress taking action on the supplemental appropriation, aviation security deadlines imposed by the Congress may not be met. Secretary Mineta has also said that TSA would have to take the following actions: suspend purchases of 800 bomb-detection systems, and 5,370 explosive trace detection units, which are scheduled to be deployed around airports across the country; suspend hiring and training of passenger screeners; delay the rollout of new security procedures at 429 airports. And the Federal Aviation Administration could be in a position to soon issue furlough notices to 35,000 air traffic service employees.

All of this is avoidable if the Congress acts and acts quickly. Congress is the one who has labeled this, properly, an emergency, because money is running out. If Congress believes this is an emergency, it's important they finish their business, act, and send the supplemental appropriation to the President so he can sign it into law. This is something the President discussed this morning with the congressional leadership in a bipartisan meeting; he will discuss it again this afternoon with the Republicans who come here to meet.


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