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Bush assails earmarks, urges surveillance bill extension in State of the Union address

[JURIST] US President George W. Bush said in Monday evening's State of Union address [text; recorded video] that he would issue an executive order Tuesday directing the federal government to ignore any future earmarks [White House fact sheet] included in legislation that are not explicitly voted on by Congress, and that if Congress does not reduce the level of earmarks by 50 percent in next year's appropriations process, he would veto any bill not meeting that goal. Bush has repeatedly pressed for earmark reductions [JURIST report], having also raised the issue in his 2007 State of the Union message [text].

The President also called on Congress to extend the Protect America Act, which allows the federal government to eavesdrop inside of the US without court approval as long as one end of a conversation is reasonably perceived to have been outside of the US:

To protect America, we need to know who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning. Last year, the Congress passed legislation to help us do that. Unfortunately, the Congress set the legislation to expire on February 1. This means that if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger. The Congress must ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted. The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America. We have had ample time for debate. The time to act is now.
Bush also encouraged the Senate to give up-or-down votes to stalled judicial nominees and urged action on illegal immigration [White House policy initiative statement] that "upholds both our laws and our highest ideals."

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