WASHINGTON --- In signing the fiscal 2002 Defense Appropriations Act, President George W. Bush said the United States owes military personnel the full measure of respect for their service and sacrifice.
Bush signed the legislation into law at a Pentagon ceremony Jan. 10. He said the act demonstrates the bipartisan support the military has. "We can never pay our men and women in uniform on a scale that matches their sacrifices," Bush said. "But this bill reflects our respect for your selfless service."
"We owe you decent pay and a decent quality of life," Bush told the packed auditorium. "We owe you the best leadership and training. We owe you the best equipment and weaponry. We owe our service men and women our best, because we owe you our freedom."
With today's signing, Bush approved both the $317 billion Defense Appropriations Act and the $20 billion emergency supplemental Congress passed in response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
At the signing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that the terrorists aimed at the symbols of U.S. freedom, strength and prosperity. "The enemy expected panic, confusion, (and) despair followed by hollow threats and feeble responses," Rumsfeld said. "They hoped we would retreat from the dangerous world that they helped create. Behind a barricade of icy mountains they felt secure. (The terrorists believed) that their landlocked fortress some 600 miles from the sea seemed far from the reach of United States forces.
"They were wrong," he continued. "They underestimated the president of the United States, they underestimated the American people, they underestimated the men and women of the armed forces, and they underestimated the men and women of our coalition forces."
Bush said that in the campaign against global terror, the U.S military must have every resource, tool, weapon and advantage necessary to accomplish the missions to come. He said the appropriations act is a "down payment" on this commitment.
Bush said the legislation funds an average pay increase of 6.9 percent for military personnel. It cuts the out-of- pocket housing expenses from 15 to 11 percent with elimination of this expense by fiscal 2005. "This fully funds the healthcare of active duty members and their families and provides over $3.9 billion for healthcare benefits for military retirees over 65 and their families," he said.
The act contains $61 billion for new weapons and $50 billion in research and development, including $8 billion for missile defense. "My administration is committed to transforming our forces with innovative doctrine and strategy and weaponry," Bush said. "This will allow us to revolutionize the battlefield of the future and to keep the peace by defining war on our terms."
Bush thanked the members of Congress for their bipartisan support and said he expects the same atmosphere will prevail as the fiscal 2003 defense budget process starts. Bush will present his 2003 Budget Request to Congress on Feb. 4.
Bush Signs Defense Bill Into Law During Pentagon Ceremony