President Bush says Iraqi security forces now outnumber U.S. troops in the country for the first time since the start of the war two years ago. Mr. Bush used his weekly radio address to call on Congress to finish work on funding for American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
President Bush says Iraqi security forces are becoming more self-reliant, and are assuming greater responsibility for their country's stability.
"Today, more than 150,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped, and for the first time, the Iraqi army, police and security forces outnumber U.S. forces in Iraq," president Bush said. "Like free people everywhere, Iraqis want to be defended and led by their own countrymen. We will help them achieve this objective, and then our troops will come home with the honor they have earned."
More than 1,500 Americans have died in Iraq. Getting more U.S. troops home means training up to 270,000 Iraqi security forces to fight insurgents and defend a new government.
In his weekly radio address, the president urged Congress to resolve remaining differences over supplemental funding for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. He says those troops are protecting Americans from what he calls determined enemies, as well as transforming nations that, until recently, he says, knew only tyranny and despair.
"In Afghanistan, millions went to the polls after we helped liberate that country from the Taleban," he said. "In Iraq, the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces are helping Iraqis build a government that answers to the people, instead of the other way around."
While fighting terror abroad, President Bush says, he is also continuing to pursue pro-growth economic policies at home. He wants Congress to eliminate, or substantially reduce, more than 150 federal programs, and keep discretionary spending in this budget to below the projected rate of inflation.
The House of Representatives this past week approved one of the president's biggest economic priorities, an energy bill that boosts domestic exploration. It is the fifth time in four years the House has passed the president's energy plan. The last four times, it has failed in the Senate.
Congressional Democrats say the plan makes America more dependent on foreign sources of oil by failing to increase fuel efficiency standards for U.S. vehicles.
Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey says the plan does not do enough to encourage alternate sources of energy, and, instead, gives $12 billion in tax breaks and subsidies for oil, natural gas, nuclear energy and coal producers.
"Today, facing the challenge of rising oil prices and growing dependency on OPEC oil, President Bush concedes that his energy bill will not even begin to reduce gasoline prices," Mr. Markey said. "Instead, at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, on Monday, President Bush will host the leader of the world's oil cartel - Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia - to ask for help in lowering gas prices. The president is right to meet with this powerful man, but it is wrong that the leader of the United States must ask favors from a foreign prince."
White House officials say President Bush and Crown Prince Abdullah will discuss world oil prices in Texas on Monday, but they are also meeting to talk about the Middle East peace process and a new government in Iraq.