Bush Presses Congress on Terror Bill

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WASHINGTON -- President Bush is challenging critics who want to cut funding for the war in Iraq.

"It's interesting that many of the same people who once accused me of refusing to acknowledge setbacks in Iraq, now are ones refusing to acknowledge progress in Iraq," President Bush told reporters at a news conference Thursday.

Another urgent priority for the President is renewing the Terrorist Surveillance Act that Congress allowed to expire.

He urged Democratic leaders to stop blocking a vote in the House. The holdup there is the debate over protecting phone companies from lawsuits for helping the government monitor conversations of terrorists.,

"How can you listen to the enemy if the phone companies aren't going to participate with you?," Bush asked. "And they are not going to participate if they get sued."

The President said America is less safe because of lawmakers decision to delay renewing the bill.

Democrats quickly responded.

"I say without any doubt, and the president knows, that if he thought the country were in jeopardy he would have most certainly agreed to a 15-20 day extension," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, told reporters.

Having just returned from his trip to Africa, Mr. Bush did commend Congress for agreeing to triple funding for his Global Aids Plan, or PEPFAR.

The $50 billion proposal is $20 billion more than his original request.

"The hope is now that the House will act quickly and send a bill re-authorizing PEPFAR to the Senate," Bush said. "And would like to sign the bill as soon as possible."

The compromise bill rolls back a requirement to devote a third of Aids prevention funds to abstinence programs. However, it still requires that groups who receive funding must have policies against prostitution and human trafficking.

The President also addressed U.S. relations with Cuba and Russia. He said he's looking forward to the Beijing Olympics, where he will again raise the issue of religious freedom with China's leaders.

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