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President Bush Signs Law Increasing US Defense Spending - 2002-10-23

President Bush has signed legislation boosting U.S. defense spending by nearly $40 billion, the largest one-year budget increase since the end of the Cold War. The president says America's military is ready for action in Iraq if diplomacy fails to disarm Saddam Hussein.

President Bush said the $355 billion in military spending will help protect the country from the new dangers it faces following last year's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. "We have asked our military to bring justice to agents of terror. We have asked our military to liberate a captive people on the side of the earth. We have asked our military to prepare for conflict in Iraq if it proves necessary," he said.

At the signing ceremony, President Bush told a Rose Garden audience of military and Congressional leaders that the increase in defense spending reflects what he calls "a new kind of war." He said, "The bill today said America is determined and resolute to not only defend our freedom, but defend freedom around the world; that we are determined and resolute to answer the call to history, and that we will defeat terror."

The defense bill includes a four percent pay raise for soldiers and more spending on military family housing. Its $72 billion worth of new weapons purchases is an $11 billion increase over existing levels.

The defense bill passed Congress with bipartisan support, though it did not give the president all he wanted. Mr. Bush failed to gain control of a $10 billion fund to fight terrorism overseas without Congressional oversight on how that money is spent.

The president got almost all of the more than $7 billion he wanted to build a missile defense system. His determination to develop that system led Mr. Bush to withdraw from the 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia.