President Bush's 2004 State of the Union Address

Below is the text of President Bush's State of the Union address -- delivered on Jan. 20, 2004 in the Capitol.

President George W. Bush

Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens: America this evening is a nation called to great responsibilities. And we are rising to meet them.

As we gather tonight, hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women are deployed across the world in the war on terror. By bringing hope to the oppressed, and delivering justice to the violent, they are making America more secure. (Applause.)

Each day, law enforcement personnel and intelligence officers are tracking terrorist threats; analysts are examining airline passenger lists; the men and women of our new Homeland Security Department are patrolling our coasts and borders. And their vigilance is protecting America. (Applause.)

Americans are proving once again to be the hardest working people in the world. The American economy is growing stronger. The tax relief you passed is working. (Applause.)

Tonight, members of Congress can take pride in the great works of compassion and reform that skeptics had thought impossible. You're raising the standards for our public schools, and you are giving our senior citizens prescription drug coverage under Medicare. (Applause.)

We have faced serious challenges together, and now we face a choice: We can go forward with confidence and resolve, or we can turn back to the dangerous illusion that terrorists are not plotting and outlaw regimes are no threat to us. We can press on with economic growth, and reforms in education and Medicare, or we can turn back to old policies and old divisions.

We've not come all this way -- through tragedy, and trial and war -- only to falter and leave our work unfinished. Americans are rising to the tasks of history, and they expect the same from us. In their efforts, their enterprise, and their character, the American people are showing that the state of our union is confident and strong. (Applause.)

Our greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American people. Twenty-eight months have passed since September 11th, 2001 -- over two years without an attack on American soil. And it is tempting to believe that the danger is behind us. That hope is understandable, comforting -- and false. The killing has continued in Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Mombasa, Jerusalem, Istanbul, and Baghdad. The terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilized world. And by our will and courage, this danger will be defeated. (Applause.)

Inside the United States, where the war began, we must continue to give our homeland security and law enforcement personnel every tool they need to defend us. And one of those essential tools is the Patriot Act, which allows federal law enforcement to better share information, to track terrorists, to disrupt their cells, and to seize their assets. For years, we have used similar provisions to catch embezzlers and drug traffickers. If these methods are good for hunting criminals, they are even more important for hunting terrorists. (Applause.)

Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year. (Applause.) The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule. (Applause.) Our law enforcement needs this vital legislation to protect our citizens. You need to renew the Patriot Act. (Applause.)

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