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Bush Welcomes Patriot Act Extension

President Bush is welcoming the temporary extension of anti-terrorism laws that were first passed following the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

President Bush says 2005 was a good year for the American people. He says there has been strong progress toward a freer, more peaceful world and a more prosperous U.S. economy.

Mr. Bush welcomed Senate action to lower government spending and temporarily extend anti-terrorism laws known as the Patriot Act. "It appears to me that the Congress understands that we've got to keep the Patriot Act in place. We are still under threat. There is a still an enemy that wants to harm us, and they understand that the Patriot Act is an important tool for those of us here in the executive branch to use to protect our fellow citizens.

White House Spokesman Scott McClellan this past week said President Bush would not accept a temporary extension of the Patriot Act, and threatened to veto a massive defense spending bill unless the laws were fully reauthorized.

But with Senate Democrats refusing to yield on concerns about protecting civil liberties, Republican congressional leaders and the White House accepted the temporay extension.

The president said one of his biggest priorities for 2006 will be winning a full reauthorization of the Patriot Act as well as continuing to help those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Speaking to reporters before leaving for the presidential retreat at Camp David, President Bush had a special message for the families of U.S. servicemen and women serving overseas during the holidays. "I would say to the families of those who have got a loved one deployed overseas: we stand with you and we pray with you for the safety of your loved one. We want to send our greetings to your loved one overseas and tell them how much we appreciate (their) serving ... the cause of freedom and peace."

The president and Mrs. Bush will be at Camp David until December 26 when they leave for their Texas ranch. They return to Washington after the New Year.