President Bush urged Congress on Saturday to immediately pass legislation that's urgently needed to fund military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and other important Defense Department programs.
"If Congress does not act, critical accounts at the Defense Department will soon run dry," Bush said during his weekly radio address to the nation. "At the beginning of next month, civilian employees may face temporary layoffs."
Also, if the legislation isn't soon approved, Bush said, the department will have to terminate "a vital program that is getting potential insurgents off the streets and into jobs."
If the required funding doesn't arrive by the end of July, "the department will no longer be able to pay our troops -- including those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq," Bush said.
In the absence of funding from Congress, the Pentagon will soon "run out of money it needs to support critical day-to-day operations that help to keep our nation safe," the president said.
Bush specified three requirements the funding bill must meet. The bill, he said, must provide troops the resources they need to defeat terrorists and extremists, that it should not tie the hands of U.S. commanders, and it must not exceed the reasonable funding levels that he requested.
The men and women in the U.S. armed forces and their families deserve the support of Congress, Bush said.
"Around the world, our troops are taking on dangerous missions with skill and determination," the president said. "In Afghanistan, they are delivering blows to the Taliban and al-Qaida."
U.S. forces serving in Iraq have "helped bring violence down to its lowest point since late March of 2004," Bush said. "Civilian deaths are down. Sectarian killings are down."
Improved security in Iraq has produced positive effects for Iraq's economy and across its political realm, Bush said.
"As security has improved, the economy has improved as well, and political reconciliation is taking place at the grassroots and national levels," Bush observed.
Concurrently, Iraq's security forces "are becoming more capable, and as they do, our troops are beginning to come home under a policy of return on success," Bush said.
Bush cited the courage and honor displayed by America's servicemembers as they perform difficult and dangerous duty in the war against terrorism.
"They've earned the respect of all Americans," Bush said of members of the armed forces. "And, they deserve the full support of Congress."
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service