Good morning. This week, both the House and Senate passed strong bipartisan
measures authorizing the use of force in Iraq if it becomes necessary. Our country
and our Congress are now united in purpose. America is speaking with one voice:
Iraq must disarm and comply with all existing U.N. resolutions, or it will be
forced to comply.
Confronting Iraq is an urgent matter of national security. America's economic
security, especially the creation of good jobs is also an urgent matter, requiring
presidential and congressional action. For that reason, I acted on Tuesday to
reopen our Pacific Coast ports which had been shut down for more than a week
due to a labor dispute. The crisis in the western ports was costing our economy
up to a billion dollars a day in lost business and lost jobs, hurting truckers
and rail operators who transport goods across America; workers on assembly lines;
cashiers in retail stores; and manufacturers and farmers who sell across the
And auto plant in Fremont, California was forced to shut down its assembly line
for two days, keeping about 5,100 employees off the job after it ran out of
parts. A company that manufactures televisions and VCRs had to stop production
and lay off 150 workers in Vancouver, Washington. Produce from America's farms
was stuck on docks, unable to be sold overseas. Retailers across the country
were worried about having enough merchandise for the holiday season.
The American people have been working hard to bring our economy back from recession.
We simply cannot afford to have hundreds of billions of dollars a year in potential
manufacturing and agricultural trade sitting idle. The action I took this week
will help keep our economy moving and allow labor and management more time to
resolve their differences. I expect the port operators and worker representatives
to bargain in good faith and reach a final agreement as quickly as possible.
Reopening the ports got people back to work.
Another important step in putting America's hard hats back on the job is passing
a terrorism insurance bill. Congress is close to a final agreement. And I look
forward to signing this good piece of legislation, if and when it gets to my
After September the 11th, many insurance companies stopped covering builders
and real estate owners against the risk of terrorist attack. The lack of terrorism
insurance has hurt the growth of this economy and cost American job. The lack
of terrorism insurance has delayed or cancelled more then $15 billion in real
estate transactions. And more than 300,000 carpenters, joiners, bricklayers,
plumbers, and electricians and laborers and other building professionals who
could have good paying jobs have been out of work.
The lack of terrorism insurance has delayed or cancelled more than $15 billion
in real estate transactions. The $15 billion worth of delay has cost 300,000
jobs -- jobs to carpenters and joiners, bricklayers, plumbers and other hardworking
This terrorism insurance legislation will cost us nothing if we experience no
further attacks. Yet it will mean thousands of new jobs for America's hard-hats
and billions in new investment. And if we do face another attack, we'll be able
to compensate victims quickly and limit the economic damage to America.
This week leaders of Congress put partisan differences aside to confront a grave
danger to our country. Clearly, we're able to get things done in Washington
when we focus on getting results, rather than scoring political points. For
the good of the economy, for the good of workers who needs jobs, senators should
again put politics aside and take one last step to reach a final agreement on
Congress is still in session next week. There's still time to reach an agreement.
Our workers have waited a year. It's past time for Congress to finish the job.