Bush Signs $318B Defense Bill

President Bush on Thursday signed a $318 billion defense spending bill boosting pay for troops, funding new weapons purchases and increasing spending on national missile defense.

In remarks to the military brass at the Pentagon, Mr. Bush said the bill increased defense spending by $30 billion over the previous fiscal year and would help fund the U.S.-led war against terrorism by providing every weapon needed for it.

"We owe you, our service men and women, our best, because we owe you our freedom," the president said.

The $318 billion defense bill increases pay for the troops by an average of 6.9 percent, with some getting up to 15 percent increases. It provides $8 billion for testing of a national missile defense system. Attached to the measure is $20 billion in emergency spending for the Pentagon, homeland security and New York relief efforts after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Click Here for Complete CoverageMr. Bush told the military to keep up the pressure to find those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. "Stay on course, find the enemy," he said.

The measure also includes funds for hiring more Customs Service inspectors, countering bioterrorism, hiring sky marshals and strengthening cockpit doors, bolstering security at the Capitol and reimbursing law enforcement agencies that responded to the Sept. 11 plane crashes.

Congress approved the legislation last month, after weeks of butting heads with Mr. Bush over how to use federal resources to combat terrorism. The president is expected to seek billions more for domestic security in the 2003 budget he will submit to Congress next month.

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