Washington — President Bush took time out Saturday from a European trip to praise Congress for passing bills that he said would help protect Americans from terrorism and produce jobs.
Bush is expected to sign legislation this week that creates a Homeland Security Department and ensures builders can get insurance to protect projects against damage from terrorist attacks. The bills were approved in the final days of the 107th Congress.
The president's message was taped in Europe, where he was helping to mark the entry of former Soviet bloc nations into an expanded North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
"This week, we saw the historic expansion of NATO and historic progress by Congress. Both will make America more secure," he said.
Topping Bush's domestic list was approval of the new Cabinet agency after lawmakers stripped the work rules and union restrictions he opposed.
"I appreciate Congress listening to my concerns and retaining the authority of the president to put the right people in the right place at the right time in defense of our country," Bush said.
The department will consolidate the activities of 22 separate agencies with a combined work force of 170,000 federal employees.
It will coordinate the response to any new emergency and "help us to know who is coming into our country and who is going out," the president said. It will, he said, "bring together the best intelligence information about our vulnerabilities to terrorist attack so that we can act quickly to protect America."
Bush also applauded congressional passage of legislation to improve security at U.S. ports.
He said he believed the terrorism insurance bill would lower premiums and "get many real estate and construction projects that had been put on hold moving again, creating thousands of hard-hat jobs."