This year Congress and I have addressed many key priorities of the American people and we're making great progress.
At the start of the year, I urged Congress to ease the burden of junk lawsuits on American workers, businesses and families, so Congress passed, and I signed, bipartisan class-action reform. We called for restoring integrity to the bankruptcy process, so Congress passed, and I signed common-sense reform of our nation's bankruptcy laws. I requested vital funds for our men and women in uniform, so Congress passed, and I proudly signed, critical legislation to give our troops the resources they need to fight and win the war on terror.
This past week has brought even more progress, with four major achievements. First, I signed into law a patient safety bill that will improve our health care system by reducing medical errors. Second, Congress came to an agreement on a highway bill that will improve safety, modernize our roads and bridges, and create jobs. Third, Congress passed the Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement. This historic agreement will reduce barriers to American goods, services and crops, and make our nation more secure by strengthening the young democracies in our neighborhood.
Finally, after years of debate, Republicans and Democrats in Congress came together to pass a comprehensive energy plan that will reduce America's dependence on foreign sources of energy. This bill will encourage conservation and efficiency, increase domestic production, promote alternative and renewable resources, and modernize the electricity grid. I thank the members of Congress who worked so hard on this vital legislation and I look forward to signing it into law.
As members of Congress return home for their August recess, I plan to travel to seven states around the country. I will talk to Americans about our growing economy. Thanks to the tax relief we passed and the spending restraint, our economy today is growing faster than any other major industrialized country. The unemployment rate is down to 5 percent, lower than the average of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. We created more than 2 million jobs in the past 12 months; more Americans are working today than ever before in our nation's history.
The 2005 deficit is projected to be $94 billion less than previously expected, and we're now ahead of the pace needed to meet my goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009.
We have more to do, and I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job. I look forward to talking to the American people about our plans to continue strengthening the economic security of America's seniors and working families.
During August, I will also meet with our troops and their families, and update the American people on the latest developments in the war on terror. We have a comprehensive strategy in place; we're improving our homeland security and intelligence. The House renewed the key provisions of the Patriot Act that were set to expire at the end of this year. And I call on the Senate to do the same.
We're also spreading freedom, because free countries are peaceful. And we're staying on the offensive against the terrorists, fighting them abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.
I also urge members of the Senate to use August to prepare to act on my nomination of Judge John Roberts to serve on the Supreme Court. This talented and capable man will fairly interpret the Constitution and laws, not legislate from the bench. Judge Roberts' time on the D.C. Circuit Court, his service at the Department of Justice and at the White House in two administrations, his impressive career as a top attorney in private practice, and his stellar academic and legal background demonstrate why Americans of all points of view have expressed their support for him.
One of the highest honors for any lawyer is to argue a case before the Supreme Court. In his extraordinary career, Judge Roberts has argued a remarkable 39 cases before the nation's highest court. I look forward to working with the Senate in the weeks ahead so that Judge Roberts can receive a timely and dignified hearing and be confirmed before the Court reconvenes on October 3rd.
Our achievements so far this year show how much can be done when we come together to do what is right for the American people. When Congress returns in September, I will continue to work with the Republicans and Democrats to build on this good progress for all Americans.
Thank you for listening.