The position of U.S. attorney is one of the most important jobs in the Justice Department. U.S. attorneys are appointed by the president, and they play a leading role in prosecuting crime and protecting the public.
In recent months, the Justice Department determined that new leadership in several of these positions would better serve the country. I strongly support the attorney general in this decision. I also appreciate the hard work and service of the U.S. attorneys who resigned. And I regret that their resignations have turned into a public spectacle.
Earlier this week, my administration presented to Congress a reasonable way forward that balances the constitutional prerogatives of the presidency with Congress's interest in learning more facts behind the decision to replace eight of the 93 U.S. attorneys.
Members of Congress now face a choice: whether they will waste time and provoke an unnecessary confrontation, or whether they will join us in working to do the people's business. We have many important issues before us. So we need to put partisan politics aside and come together to enact important legislation for the American people.
One of the most urgent legislative priorities is to fund our troops fighting the war on terror. I've asked Congress to pass an emergency war spending bill that gives our troops what they need, without strings and without delay. Instead, a narrow majority in the House of Representatives decided yesterday to make a political statement. The emergency war spending bill they voted for would cut the number of troops below the level our military commanders say they need to accomplish the mission. It would set an artificial timetable for withdrawal that would allow the enemy to wait us out. And it would require an army of lawyers to meet the conditions imposed by politicians in Washington who are substituting their own judgment for that of our generals in Iraq. I have made it clear that I will veto any such bill, and it is clear that my veto would be sustained.
To get the votes they needed to pass the bill, the Democrats who control the House also included billions of dollars in domestic and pork barrel spending for local congressional districts. This spending includes things like $74 million for peanut storage, $25 million for spinach growers, and a host of other spending items that have nothing to do with the war. Even with all this extra spending tacked on, the vote in the House was very close. This means that the Democrats do not have enough votes to override my veto.
By choosing to make a political statement and passing a bill they know will never become law, the Democrats in Congress have only delayed the delivery of the vital funds and resources our troops need. The clock is running. The secretary of defense has warned that if Congress does not approve the emergency funding for our troops by April 15, our men and women in uniform will face significant disruptions — and so will their families. April 15 is also about the same time that Congress returns from its Easter vacation. Members of Congress need to put our troops first, not politics. They need to send me a clean bill, without conditions, without restrictions, and without pork.
This is an important moment for our Nation, and it is an important moment for the new Congress. My administration has presented a reasonable way forward on the matter of U.S. attorneys, and on ensuring that our men and women in uniform have the funds and the flexibility they need to win in Iraq. It is not too late for us to work together. For the good of our nation, I ask the Democratic leaders in Congress to seize the opportunity before us and move beyond political statements to bipartisan action.
Thank you for listening.