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Transcript: Bush touts Miers, addresses hurricane recovery

Remarks range from gas prices to Patriot Act

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Bush called Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers "a model of service to her country and to our citizens."

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Supreme Court
George W. Bush
Harriet Miers

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In his first solo press conference since May, President Bush on Tuesday laid out his case for Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers and addressed several other pressing issues facing the nation.

The following is a transcript of Bush's opening remarks on his Supreme Court nominee, hurricane recovery efforts, the federal budget, gas prices and the Patriot Act:

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yesterday, I nominated an outstanding individual to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. Over the past three decades, Harriet Miers has built a stellar record of accomplishment in the law. She's been a model of service to her country and to our citizens.

I've known her for more than 10 years. I know her character. She's a woman of principle and deep conviction.

She shares my philosophy that judges should strictly interpret the laws and the Constitution of the United States and not legislate from the bench.

I appreciate the reception that Harriet's gotten in Capitol Hill. I expect the Senate to conduct fair hearings and to hold an up-or-down vote on Harriet's nomination by Thanksgiving.

Congress has got other important work to do, starting with our response to the Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

We here in Washington have got a vital role to play in the recovery and reconstruction efforts on the Gulf Coast. I have made that clear.

I've also made it clear we must do so in a fiscally responsible way. Congress needs to pay for as much of the hurricane relief as possible by cutting spending. I'll work with members of Congress to identify offsets and to free up money for the reconstruction efforts.

I will ask them to make even deeper reductions in the mandatory spending programs than are already planned.

As Congress completes action on the 2006 appropriations bills, I call on members to make real cuts in nonsecurity spending.

The heart of America is big enough to be generous and responsible at the same time.

One of our most important obligations to to ensure that hundreds of thousands of students displaced by the storms can continue with their studies. Congress needs to provide assistance to states and local school districts that have taken these children in, whether the schools are public or private.

As the federal government meets its responsibilities to the people of the Gulf Coast, it must also recognize its limitations.

The engine that drives growth and job creation in America is the private sector and the private sector will be the engine that drives the recovery of the Gulf Coast. So I've outlined a set of policies to attract private investment to the affected areas, to encourage small- business development and to help workers in need get back on their feet.

These policies are vital to our efforts to help the good folks who've suffered down there in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama. I call on Congress to includes these measures in the recovery legislation that they send to my desk.

The storms that hit our Gulf Coast also touched every American with higher prices at the gas pump. They highlighted a problem I've been talking about since I've come to Washington: We need more refining capacity.

It ought to be clear to everybody that this country needs to build more refining capacity to be able to deal with the issues of tight supply. We haven't built a new refinery since the 1970s.

And so I look forward to working with Congress to pass a reasonable law that will allow current refineries to expand and to encourage the construction of new refineries.

We've also got to continue to make sure we meet our obligations to prevent further terrorist attack. One of the most important, effective tools for safeguarding our country is the Patriot Act.

This good law allows law enforcement officers to hunt down terrorists with many of the same tools they already use to fight organized crime and drug dealers.

The Patriot Act is getting results. It's a positive piece of legislation. Parts of it are set to expire. Congress needs to recognize that terrorist threats won't expire. And so they need to send me a bill that reauthorizes the Patriot Act.

We've been through a lot but there's no question in my mind that we're going to accomplish great things. We'll make this country more secure, we'll help the parts of our country that got destroyed rebuilt, we'll keep this economy strong.

The work of our government goes on, and I'm looking forward to working with members of Congress to meet our obligations and responsibilities.

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