Bush Thanks Military Families, Urges Congress to Pass War Spending Bill
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 16, 2007 President Bush today thanked families of troops serving overseas for their sacrifices and praised organizations that support veterans and military families. He also urged Congress to quickly pass an emergency war spending bill so that the troops can get the funding they need to accomplish their mission.
“I appreciate very much to be in the presence of moms and dads, husbands and wives, sons and daughters of some of the finest citizens our nation has ever produced,” Bush told military family members in the audience at the White House.
The president noted the challenges faced by military families during war.
“A time of war is a time of sacrifice for our nation, but especially for our military families. Being left behind when a loved one goes to war is one of the hardest jobs in our military,” Bush said. “The families here today inspire our nation -- inspire them with their sense of duty and with their deep devotion to our country.”
Bush also expressed his gratitude to representatives of troop-support organizations in the audience.
“I want to thank the leaders of organizations that support our military families. I appreciate your tireless work to send a clear signal that many in the United States of America support our troops,” Bush said. “Each of you knows what is stake -- what is at stake in this war on terror. And I appreciate your efforts to rally our nation to support our troops, and to support the mission for which they have risked and, in some cases, have given their lives.”
Bush said the troops must be given “the tools and resources they need to prevail,” and he is looking forward to meeting with members of Congress April 18 to iron out differences between the administration and Congress.
The disagreement is over the fiscal 2007 Emergency Supplemental Request. The $93.4 billion request will fund operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other operations in the war on terror. Both the Senate and House versions of the supplemental have a timetable for the exit of U.S. troops from Iraq. President Bush said he will not sign any legislation with a withdrawal date.
“I think it is wrong for Congress to restrict our military commanders,” Bush said. “I can understand having a difference of opinion about Iraq, but our commanders need the flexibility necessary to meet the mission. We should not be substituting political judgment for the judgment of those in our military.”
Bush said honest differences over the best course in Iraq should be debated. “That's healthy,” he said. “That's normal. … But our troops should not be caught in the middle.”
Bush said failure to fund the supplemental quickly will impact military readiness, and that “will mean that the readiness of our forces will suffer. This is unacceptable to me; it's unacceptable to you, and it's unacceptable to the vast majority of the American people.”
The U.S. must provide its troops with the support they need to accomplish their mission, Bush said.
“We owe it to every sailor, soldier, airman, Marine in harm's way to give them the tools they need to prevail,” Bush said. “That's what we owe them.”
The president said he is open to trying to settle political differences in order to provide the military with the funding it needs.
“I am willing to discuss any way forward that does not hamstring our troops, set an artificial timetable for withdrawal and spend billions on projects not related to the war,” he said.
Bush said the American people expect the White House and Congress to work together.
“Congress needs to put the partisanship on hold; it needs to get rid of all the politics right now and send me an emergency war spending bill that I can sign that gets our troops the support they need and gives our commanders the flexibility they need to complete this mission,” he said.