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Bush Signs $417 Billion Appropriations Bill

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2004 – President Bush signed the Defense Appropriations Bill into law during a White House ceremony today. The money will fund the global war on terror, personnel initiatives and further the transformation of the American military.

The $417 billion bill funds the military for fiscal 2005. Congress must pass a second bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, before the department can spend the money.

Bush said the United States is taking the fight to the terrorists. He said in the last three years, America has made great strides in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world to confront the enemies of freedom. "These great achievements have come at a cost of human life and grief," he said. "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."

Bush reiterated his commitment to military personnel. "We will support them," he said. "We'll 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."

On the personnel side, the bill provides a 3.5 percent across-the-board pay raise for service members, eliminates out-of-pocket housing expenses and fully funds the Defense Health Program. The president said the raise brings the total pay raise over the last four years to nearly 21 percent. "This money is well earned, well deserved, and well spent," he said.

Bush called the elimination of out-of-pocket expenses "a real boost" for military families. "The excellence and professionalism of an all-volunteer force has never been higher," he said. "America must do all we can to encourage these special Americans to stay in uniform, and that starts with taking care of their families."

The bill funds the on-going war on terror with $25 billion in emergency appropriations to support current operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. "This money will buy more armored Humvees, more ammunition, more fuel, more spare parts," he said. "It will upgrade our helicopters with the latest equipment, allowing them to fly more safely in the dangerous theaters."

The bill also funds acquisition programs including the F/A-22 Raptor aircraft, more F/A-18E/F Hornets, guided-missile destroyers and C-17 airlifters. The bill also provides $10 billion for ballistic missile defense programs. "Later this year, the first components of America's missile defense system will become operational," Bush said. "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."

The bill also funds the military of the future. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," the president said. Just as terrorists never stop thinking about new ways to harm the United States people, U.S. leaders never stop thinking about how to protect the nation and its people, he added.

Bush said recent breakthroughs have made warfare more precise, thus reducing battlefield casualties. "This bill continues that progress by funding the technologies that are changing the way we fight wars in order to keep the peace," he said. This includes the Army's Future Combat System, the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship, and the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps Joint Strike Fighter. In addition, the bill funds a number of communications programs that will change the face of warfare and cement the U.S. lead.

Bush thanked members of both political parties for their help with the bill. "The message is clear: In a time of conflict and challenge, America stands behind our military," he said. "By taking care of our service people in uniform, by addressing the threats of today, by preparing for the threats of tomorrow, this bill will help make America a safer place."

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