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Bush Approves $418 Billion Defense Spending Bill - 2004-08-05


President Bush has approved $25 billion of additional spending for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of a broader package of Pentagon funding for the fiscal year 2005, which starts in October.

President Bush says the more than $400 billion of defense spending will help make America a safer place.

"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," the president said.

The new spending includes the president's fourth pay raise for U.S. troops, along with funding for better satellite communications, three new guided-missile destroyers, and another attack submarine.

It funds 42 new fighter aircraft, and has $200 million for more unmanned predator surveillance aircraft, which the president says will be used to track and hunt America's enemies.

In the last three years, Mr. Bush says, U.S. troops have struck a series of decisive blows against those enemies by toppling governments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"America's military is fighting in many theaters, yet always for the same cause. We seek to preserve freedom and peace for ourselves and our friends," he said.

Twenty-five billion dollars in emergency appropriations for Afghanistan and Iraq includes money for more body armor for troops, more armored Humvees, more fuel, and more spare parts, as well as technical upgrades to Black Hawk attack helicopters, which Mr. Bush says will allow them to fly more safely into combat.

The defense appropriation also includes $10 billion for systems to protect against ballistic missiles.

"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," president Bush said.

Support for the U.S. military is a campaign issue in this year's election, with the president criticizing Democratic challenger John Kerry for voting against an earlier $87 billion military spending package. Senator Kerry says he opposed the bill because he wanted those funds to come from the president's record tax cuts, so as not to further increase the federal deficit.

The White House had originally said there would be no additional funding request for Afghanistan and Iraq until after the election. But under pressure from Congress, Mr. Bush included the emergency funding for the two countries, which he calls the front lines in the war on terror.

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