The following is a transcript of President Bush's weekly radio address:
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Next week Congress will return to Washington after its Memorial Day recess. I hope Members of Congress return rested, because they have a lot of work left on important issues and limited time to get it done.
Congress needs to pass a responsible war funding bill that puts the needs of our troops first, without loading it up with unrelated domestic spending. Our troops in Afghanistan are performing with courage and honor, delivering blows to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Our troops in Iraq have driven Al Qaeda and other extremists from sanctuaries they once held across the country and are chasing them from their last remaining strongholds. Our men and women in uniform are risking their lives every day, and they deserve the resources and flexibility they need to complete their mission.
Congress needs to support our military families by passing an expansion of the GI Bill that makes it easier for our troops to transfer unused education benefits to their spouses and children. It is critical for this legislation to support the all-volunteer force and help us recruit and retain the best military in the world.
Congress needs to ensure that our intelligence professionals have the tools to monitor terrorist communications quickly and effectively. Last year, Congress passed temporary legislation that provided these tools. Unfortunately, the law expired more than three months ago. Congress needs to pass long-term legislation that will help our intelligence professionals learn our enemies' plans before they can attack and put an end to abusive lawsuits filed against companies believed to have assisted the government after the attacks of September the 11th. And Congress needs to act soon so we can maintain a vital flow of intelligence.
Congress needs to approve the Colombia free trade agreement so we can open a growing market for American goods, services, and crops. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives is blocking a vote on this vital agreement. Unless this agreement is brought up for a vote, it will die. This will hurt American workers, farmers, and business owners. And it will hurt our Nation's strategic interests in a vital region of the world.
Congress needs to confirm the good men and women who have been nominated to important government positions. There are now more than 350 nominations pending before the Senate. These include highly qualified people I have nominated to fill vacancies on the Federal bench. And they include talented nominees who are needed to help guide our economy during a time of uncertainty. For example, three nominees to the Federal Reserve have been waiting for confirmation for more than a year. And because of Senate inaction, the Council of Economic Advisers is now down to a single member. This confirmation backlog makes it harder for government to meet its responsibilities - and the United States Senate needs to give every nominee an up-or-down vote as soon as possible.
One nominee who needs to be confirmed right away is Steve Preston. A month has passed since I nominated Steve to be the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Unfortunately, Senators have stalled this nomination over an issue that has nothing to do with Steve or his qualifications for the job. With all the turbulence in the housing market, this is no time to play politics with such a critical appointment. So I call on the Senate to give Steve Preston a prompt vote and confirm this good man without further delay.
At a time when many Americans are concerned about keeping their homes, Congress needs to pass legislation to modernize the Federal Housing Administration, reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ensure they focus on their housing mission, and allow State housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to refinance subprime loans. And at a time when Americans are concerned about rising gas prices, Congress needs to pass legislation to expand domestic energy production.
In all these areas, Congress has failed to act. The American people deserve better from their elected leaders. Congress needs to show the American people that Republicans and Democrats can compete for votes and cooperate for results at the same time. You sent your representatives to Washington to do the people's business, and you have a right to expect them to do it - even in an election year.
Thank you for listening.