NEW YORK – Election Day and Friday's U.N. approval of a resolution on Iraq marked "an important week for our country and for the world," President Bush said Saturday.
In passing the controversial Security Council resolution, the international community came together to make sure Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s regime won’t be allowed to build or store weapons of mass destruction without punishment.
"And my administration will see to it that the world’s judgment is enforced," Bush said in his weekly radio address, calling the resolution a way to present Iraq with a "final test."
"Iraq can be certain that the old game of cheat-and-retreat, tolerated at other times, will no longer be tolerated," he said.
Bush was referring to Saddam’s promises in recent years to disarm his country and to stop production of any sort of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. Bush has chastised the U.N. Security Council in recent months for not holding Iraq accountable for failing to live up to its promises to get rid of its weapons stockpile and to cooperate with international weapons inspectors.
But Bush stressed that the era of Saddam getting away with such activities is over. The president is mincing no words when it comes to making sure America, the world, and Saddam, know the consequences of noncompliance.
"If Iraq fails to fully comply with the U.N. resolution, the United States, in coalition with other nations, will disarm Saddam Hussein," Bush said.
Although Tuesday’s midterm elections produced a slew of new Senate and House members to be sworn in, the current Congress will return next week to take care of some unfinished business. During this lame-duck session, Bush said, "the single most important item of unfinished business" is to pass his bill creating a federal Department of Homeland Security.
The House passed the measure, but the previously Democrat-controlled Senate has been in gridlock over issues such as union representation in the new department.
But Democrats lost an ally with the recent death of Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone. An independent was chosen by Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura to fill in until the new Congress is sworn in, and chances are it will be easier to get the homeland security bill through without a Democratic majority.
To add another notch to Bush’s belt in the homeland security debate, Democratic incumbent Sen. Jean Carnahan of Missouri was defeated in Tuesday’s elections by Republican Jim Talent. Talent’s win means he may be sworn in before the new session begins, giving the Republicans a one-seat numerical advantage during the lame-duck session. The two candidates were running to fill out the term won by Democrat Mel Carnahan -- Jean’s husband -- who died three weeks before being elected to the Senate in 2000. According to Missouri law, Talent takes office as soon as results are certified.
"Congress needs to send me a bill I can sign before it adjourns this year," Bush said.
Bush said it’s also vital for Congress to pass terrorism insurance legislation. "That will spur construction and create thousands of good hard-hat jobs that are now on hold, because projects without insurance cannot be built," he said.
And then there are the appropriations bills sitting idly on Capitol Hill.
Federal lawmakers failed to complete 12 of this year's 13 spending bills before members left Washington last month to campaign. Bush warned Congress to show fiscal discipline in passing the measures, particularly given the fact that the country may be gearing up for a costly war.
"At a time when we’re at war, at a time when we need to strengthen our economy, Congress must control wasteful spending while funding the nation’s priorities," Bush said in his address.
The president also urged Congress to pass an economic package providing jobs and ways to stimulate the economy by early next year.
"Our economy has come out of a recession and it’s growing. But I’m not satisfied, because I know we can do better," Bush said. "I want the economy to grow at a faster and stronger pace, so more Americans can find jobs."