WASHINGTON – President Bush on Friday thanked Congress for making two bipartisan compromises this week that forwarded his legislative agenda.
He then left for political fundraising events in Florida and North Carolina.
Democrats and Republicans on Wednesday hammered out negotiations on a $162 billion war funding measure, which includes an update to the GI Bill military education program, as well as Midwest flooding assistance. The two parties also came together Thursday on a work-through for the nation's terror surveillance program, an update to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Bush called the spending compromise a "responsible war funding bill."
"This legislation gives our troops the funds they need to prevail without tying the hands of our commanders in the field or imposing arbitrary timetables of withdrawal," Bush said.
The House passed the measure Thursday night, and Bush said, "I urge the Senate to pass it as soon as possible."
Regarding the intelligence bill, he said his top intelligence deputies have advised him it's a good bill, and "it will help us learn our enemies' plans for new attacks" while warning that the same enemies who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, continue their efforts for renewed violence on U.S. soil.
"I encourage the House of Representatives to pass this bill today, and I urge the Senate to take it up quickly," Bush said.
The House is expected to pass the bill easily and shows bipartisan support. The Senate, expected to take up the measure next week, also is expected to pass it.
The bill's key compromise was over a plan to give telecommunications companies that secretly assisted the Bush administration in its efforts to monitor suspected terrorists and their associates. The administration has pushed to grant the telecoms legal immunity from breach-of-privacy lawsuits that arose following the disclosure of the secret monitoring program.
Democrats pushed back, letting one law passed last August expire over the winter. This week's bill will require a court to review immunity waivers the administration gave the telecoms, but it will not allow the court to rule on their legality. Republicans say if the telecoms received a letter, they will not be liable any of the 40 lawsuits now pending.
Bush was scheduled to head to Florida and North Carolina for fundraising appearances for Reps. Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, both Florida Republicans, and for North Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory.