For Immediate Release
August 5, 2004
President Signs Defense Bill
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE
SIGNING OF H.R. 4613, THE DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2005
9:56 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated.
America and our allies are fighting a new kind of war against a
different kind of enemy. This conflict places great demands on the men
and women of our armed forces, including our Guard and Reserve. They
have met every test. They've risen to every challenge.
The war also places demands on those of us in government. We took
an oath to protect our country. We have a solemn responsibility to
support the servicemen and women who defend us in the field of battle.
The Defense appropriations bill I will sign today commits $391 billion
toward meeting that responsibility. With this legislation, America's
military will know that their country stands behind them as they fight
for our freedom, and as they spread the peace. No enemy or friend can
doubt that America has the resources to prevail, and we will.
I want to thank the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, for his
steadfast and strong leadership of our -- of our Pentagon. Mr.
Secretary, thank you.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz for joining
us today. I appreciate the other members of the Pentagon team who are
here. I appreciate Jim Roche and Les Brownlee representing the Air
Force and the Army. General Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs,
is with us. I appreciate the Chairman. I want to thank all the
military generals who are here, who run their respective -- respective
branches of the services. Thank you all for coming. Thanks for your
I appreciate Senator John Warner representing the United States
Congress. Senator Warner is a strong leader when it comes to matters
of defense. He's the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
This bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. I want thank
you for that, sir.
America's military is fighting in many theaters, yet always for the
same cause. We seek to preserve freedom and peace for ourselves and
for our friends.
In the last three years, our military men and women have struck a
series of decisive blows against the enemy. They have relentlessly
attacked the al Qaeda network. They've killed or captured many of its
leaders. They've destroyed its terror camps. We're disrupting its
plans. We're doing our duty.
We've ended regimes in Kabul and Baghdad that supported and
harbored terrorists and threatened America. They have helped to launch
the nations of Iraq and Afghanistan on the path to lasting democracy
and liberty. They have helped friendly nations build the strength and
institutions necessary to fight terror. At this hour, our troops are
staying on the offensive against al Qaeda. We're taking the fight to
the enemies -- those who can't stand the thought of a free Iraq and
free Afghanistan. Our troops are making America safer, and we're
grateful for their sacrifices.
These great achievements have come at a cost of human life and
grief. America is grateful for the families of those who mourn a loved
one. We will honor their memory by completing the mission and making
the world a more peaceful place. We have made a commitment to the men
and women of our armed forces. We will support them. We will provide
them fair pay and good treatment. We will continue to ensure they have
the tools they need to defeat the enemies of today. We will develop
the weapons and systems to meet the threats of tomorrow.
The bill meets these commitments -- first, by providing more then
$103 billion to the greatest source of American strength -- our service
people and their families. This appropriation is the fourth of my
administration to include a pay raise for our troops. This year's
raise of 3.5 percent brings the total pay raise over the last four
years to nearly 21 percent. This money is well earned, well deserved,
and well spent.
The bill also fulfills my pledge to eliminate the costs that too
many service people have had to pay for off-base housing. It's a real
boost to the quality of life for our military families. The excellence
and professionalism of an all-volunteer force has never been higher.
America must do all we can to encourage these special Americans to stay
in uniform. And that starts with taking care of their families.
Second, this bill meets our commitments by making sure that our
armed forces have every tool they need to meet and defeat the threats
of our time. This bill provides $25 billion in emergency
appropriations to support current operations in Afghanistan and Iraq,
the front lines in the war on terror. This money will buy more armored
Humvees, more ammunition, more fuel, more spare parts. It will upgrade
our helicopters with the latest equipment, allowing them to fly more
safely in the dangerous theaters.
This bill helps America maintain the peace around the world and
keep our commitments to our allies. It funds construction of three new
state-of-the-art guided missile destroyers to patrol the seas; 42 new
F/A-18 fighter aircraft to guard the skies. It provides $4 billion for
new C-17 strategic air lifters, which will increase our ability to move
forces quickly over long distances. And $200 million will buy more
Predator unmanned surveillance aircraft to track and hunt our enemies.
This bill provides $10 billion for systems to defend against the
threat from ballistic missiles. Later this year, the first components
of America's missile defense system will become operational. This will
fulfill a pledge I made to the American people more than four years
ago. America and our allies face a deadly threat from ballistic
missiles armed with the world's most dangerous weapons. And we will
deploy the technologies necessary to protect our people.
Recent history has shown that threats to our shores can emerge from
failing states half a world away. By acting early to end a crisis, we
can make our world safer. That's why this bill provides $95 million to
help the people of Darfur, in western Sudan. Brutal militias there are
causing human suffering on an immense scale. The new funding will
provide famine relief, assistance for refugees and other humanitarian
aid. Yet not amount of aid can substitute for true and lasting peace.
The Government of Sudan must stop the violence of Janjaweed militias,
and all parties must respect the cease-fire and allow the free movement
of humanitarian workers and supplies.
Third, this bill meets our commitment to America's Armed Forces by
preparing them to meet the threats of tomorrow. Our enemies are
innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking
about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
We must never stop thinking about how best to defend our country when
we all must always be forward-thinking.
Over the past few years, new ideas and new technologies have
increased the precision of our weapons, reduced battlefield casualties,
and lessened the toll of war on innocent life. This bill continues
that progress by funding the technologies that are changing the way we
fight wars in order to keep the peace, technology such as: the Army's
Future Combat System, which will give every soldier precise tactical
information in the heat of battle; the Littoral Combat Ship, which will
increase the reach of our Navy into hostile shores and waterways; the
versatile and cost-effective Joint Strike Fighter; and Wideband
Satellite laser communications that will improve the ability of our
forces to communicate over great distances.
I appreciate the solid and bipartisan support of this bill. I
appreciate both people -- people of both parties coming together to
support our troops. We're doing our duty to the people who are out
doing their duty to defend us and make the world a more peaceful
place. The message is clear: In a time of conflict and challenge,
America stands behind our military.
By taking care of our service people in uniform, by addressing the
threats of today, by preparing for the threats of a tomorrow, this bill
will help make America a safer place. And so I'm pleased to sign the
Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2005.
Thank you all for coming. (Applause.)
(The bill is signed.)
END 10:07 A.M. EDT