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Bush Appeals for Additional Funds to Fight Terrorism - 2002-07-13

President Bush wants Congress to approve additional funding for the war on terrorism. In his weekly radio address, the president also called on legislators to pass new laws punishing corporate corruption before their August recess.

In a nation at war against terrorism, President Bush said, Congress has waited too long to approve additional military spending and funds to improve airport security. "The Department of Defense and the new Transportation Security Administration are still waiting for the money. Without prompt Congressional action, our military will need to start cannibalizing spare parts to keep equipment running," Mr. Bush said.

Without additional funds, the president said, the Federal Aviation Administration may have to lay-off some air traffic controllers, and plans to install new bomb-detection devices in airports may be delayed.

Before the end of the month, Mr. Bush said, Congress should also send him legislation doubling jail time for those convicted of corporate fraud, and creating an independent review board to monitor accounting practices.

Amid a series of American business scandals that have shaken investor confidence, corporate corruption is becoming a bigger political issue for both parties ahead of legislative elections in November.

President Bush said he is ready to work with Democrats and Republicans to crack down on that corruption. "Perhaps the greatest need for our economy at this moment is restoring confidence in the integrity of the American business leaders. Nearly every week brings news of greater productivity or strong consumer spending, but also a discovery of fraud and scandal, problems long in the making, and now coming to light," Mr. Bush said.

In the Democratic response to the president's weekly radio address, Illinois Congressman David Phelps called on Mr. Bush to support legislation in the Democratically-controlled Senate that is tougher than a bill, which has already passed the Republican-led House of Representatives.

"This legislation calls for tough corporate responsibility and strict accounting industry reforms. It ensures that corporate executives are held accountable for their actions, further protects investors and pensions, imposes tough criminal and civil penalties on corporate wrongdoers, and will keep auditors like Arthur Anderson and stock analysts honest and independent. It is not enough to just talk about accountability and responsibility in the corporate world. You have to act to ensure it," Mr. Phelps said.

Most of the president's proposals announced in a Tuesday speech on Wall Street have been added to the Senate legislation.

Congressman Phelps said the test for the president and Congress is not whether they share the outrage of shareholders who have lost money in the scandals. He said it is whether they are willing to come together to take action on that outrage, and pass legislation to punish those responsible for corporate misconduct and restore investor confidence in the stock market.