White House Press Releases:March 17 2005

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President Welcomes Irish Prime Minister Ahern for St. Patrick's Day[edit]

The Roosevelt Room

10:25 A.M. EST

PRIME MINISTER AHERN: Mr. President, First Lady, it's a great honor to be, again, with you on this very special day. St. Patrick's Day is one of joy and celebration for Irish communities all over the world. It's a time when members of the extended Irish family and friends express pride in our homeland and in the bonds that tie us to Ireland. Nowhere is this more true than in the United States, where Irish heritage has been fostered and cherished for generations. Mr. President, we're very honored that we again share this special Irish day with you here at the White House.

This symbolic ceremony of the presentation of shamrock epitomizes the enduring ties between Ireland and the United States. Today provides a unique opportunity to celebrate our shared heritage, as well as the strength and diversity of our bilateral relations, which continue to prosper and evolve in an ever-changing world.

The shamrock, President, was originally used by St. Patrick as a Christian symbol of unity. It has also become an emblem worn with enormous pride by people of Irish descent, and friends of Ireland, wherever they may be. And this is a heritage and symbol of inclusion that we are proud to share with all traditions on the island of Ireland, in the United States, and indeed, today, around the world.

Mr. President, today we also acknowledge the true and constant friendship which we receive from this country for the efforts to secure peace and stability in Northern Ireland. Your even-handed support and wise counsel continues to be an invaluable resource to us in our search for lasting peace.

As you know, we were very close last December to bringing an end to the journey we first began with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in April of 1998. The United States has been with us every step of the way. And I greatly appreciate the work of your administration, of your Special Envoy, Mitchell Reiss. Above all, I want to thank you for your personal interventions late last year to encourage the parties to face up to the challenges of peace and partnership, and to take the courageous steps required to secure agreement.

We've come a long way, President, over the last seven years, and we've achieved a great deal of progress in Northern Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement has positively transformed the political landscape. But we need to complete the work of achieving lasting peace and political partnership in Northern Ireland. We need to ensure that the agreement's vision of a new beginning to relationships is fully realized and secured for the benefit of this and future generations. That is what the people of Ireland, North and South, voted for in 1998, when they overwhelmingly endorsed the agreement. They did not vote, President, for an armed peace, neither did they vote for a criminal peace. They voted for a democratic peace. With your continued support and encouragement, Mr. President, we will deliver that outcome.

My government remains as fully committed today as we were in 1998 to making the Good Friday Agreement work. Recent events have damaged confidence, but they've also crystalized what must now be done to finalize the process and achieve stable partnership of government in Northern Ireland. Partnership politics requires all parties to play their part. But if trust and confidence is to be established, tangible evidence of commitment to a democratic peace is essential. The political conclusion envisaged by the agreement can only be realized when those who aspire to share in government have brought definitive closure to paramilitary capability and activity, including all forms of criminality.

Mr. President, in our continuing efforts to implement the agreement and achieve political progress in Northern Ireland, I know I can count on your continued support. We in Ireland deeply appreciate your generosity, your friendship, and the goodwill and encouragement of the United States.

I'm very pleased, therefore, to present you with this shamrock as a token of our esteem and heartfelt gratitude for all that you, Mr. President, and the United States have done for my country, and for all the people of Ireland. Thank you.

(The shamrock is presented.)

THE PRESIDENT: Taoiseach, thank you very much, and welcome back to the White House. It's -- Laura and I are delighted to continue the tradition of accepting the crystal bowl overflowing with shamrocks. It's a wonderful gift, symbolizing Ireland's world-renowned hospitality.

Today is a joyous celebration of the deep friendship between the Irish and the American peoples. The histories and blood lines of our two countries are deeply intertwined. And that is why, in cities and towns across our nation, millions of Americans celebrate this feast day of the Apostle of Ireland.

St. Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to illustrate the mystery of the Trinity. The shamrock has also come to represent the unity that people can achieve when they commit themselves to peace and freedom.

In America, we have a phrase for that -- it's called e pluribus unum, out of many, one. You'll find that on the great seal of the United States, which, by the way, was largely designed by Charles Thompson, a native of Derry. The hearts of the Irish burn for freedom and they brought that love for liberty to America. The Irish fought in our nation's war of independence, and over the past two centuries they devoted their blood and sweat to defending and building America.

When terrorists struck our nation, the Irish were well-represented among the firefighters and police officers who sacrificed their lives to save others at the World Trade Center. In a great Irish tradition, Marines preparing to retake the city of Fallujah prepared for battle to the strains of Lt. Colonel Paul Sweeney's bagpipes echoing across the Iraqi plains.

The Irish have a way of turning adversity into opportunity. About a million came to our shores seeking refuge from the Great Potato Famine. Once they came, they built and they toiled and they produced. They constructed railroads and great cathedrals; they even helped build the U.S. Capitol. They added to our literature with a genius, with their words. And, of course, a few even entered politics. (Laughter.)

The Irish talent for statesmanship has been evident on both sides of the Atlantic. And today we're proud to welcome a friend of peace, and a friend of freedom, my good friend, Bertie Ahern.

Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you for your tireless work in the struggle against terrorism on St. Patrick's Island. I appreciate your leadership. I appreciate your strength of character. I appreciate your vision. It takes courage to work the path -- to walk the path of peace. And your leadership, Mr. Prime Minister, is appreciated not only in your nation but in ours, as well. As you work for peace, our government and the American people will stand with you.

Today, America and Ireland are united in many ways. The economies of our two countries are closely tied. We're working together to bring freedom and justice to Afghanistan and the Balkans and other countries that have now known it. We share a common commitment to the values preached by St. Patrick: liberty under God and the dignity of all human persons.

Taoiseach, we pay tribute to the role the Irish have played in defending and renewing the ideals that Americans cherish. May our friendship remain steadfast, and may the citizens of both our nations enjoy a happy and blessed St. Patrick's Day. Welcome back. (Applause.)

END 10:34 A.M. EST

President Nominates Rob Portman as United States Trade Representative[edit]

The Roosevelt Room



President's Remarks

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9:36 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I'm pleased to announce my nomination of Congressman Rob Portman to be our next United States Trade Representative. For more than a decade, Rob Portman has been a superb representative of the 2nd District of Ohio. He's earned the trust of his constituents and the admiration of his colleagues. He brings a record of achievement to this new assignment.

As a member of the House leadership, Rob has shown he can bring together people of differing views to get things done. He's been a tireless advocate for America's manufacturers and entrepreneurs. He's a former international trade lawyer who has shown a deep dedication to free and fair trade. And now he will bring that commitment to his new role as U.S. Trade Representative.

As an Ohioan, Rob knows firsthand that millions of American jobs depend on exports, including one in every five factory jobs. Our country is home to about 5 percent of the world's population, and that means 95 percent of our potential customers are abroad. To keep our economy growing and creating jobs, we need to continue opening foreign markets to American products. And Rob knows that America's farmers and workers can compete with anybody, anytime, anywhere in the world, so long as the rules are fair.

Under the outstanding leadership of Ambassador Bob Zoellick, the U.S. Trade Representative's office helped bring China and Taiwan into the World Trade Organization, and worked with Congress to secure Trade Promotion Authority. Bob and his team have completed free trade agreements with 12 nations on five continents, that will open a combined market of 124 million consumers for America's farmers and manufacturers and small

business owners. I appreciate his fine service, and I will continue to count on his wisdom and good judgment in his new post as Deputy Secretary of State.

When he is confirmed by the Senate, Rob Portman will build on Ambassador Zoellick's achievements. I've asked him to take on a bold agenda. We need to continue to open markets abroad by pursuing bilateral free trade agreements with partners around the world. We need to finish our work to establish a free trade area of the Americas, which will become the largest free trade zone in the world. We need to complete the Doha round negotiations within the World Trade Organization to reduce global barriers to trade. We must continue to vigorously enforce the trade laws on the books so that American businesses and workers are competing on a level playing field.

Rob is the right man to carry out this agenda. I've known him for many years. He is a good friend, a decent man, and a skilled negotiator. He understands that trade creates jobs, raises living standards, and lowers prices for families here at home. Rob also understands that as the world trades more freely, it becomes more free and prosperity abounds.

Rob Portman will be a fine leader for the dedicated men and women who work in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. I'm grateful he's agreed to serve. I'm grateful to his wife, Jane, and their three children, Jed, Will and Sally. I urge the Senate to promptly confirm this outstanding nominee as America's Trade Representative, and I look forward to welcoming Rob into my Cabinet. Congratulations.

MR. PORTMAN: Mr. President, thank you very much. I am very proud to stand at your side, and I am grateful for you giving me this opportunity to join your Cabinet and promote the bold international trade agenda you just described.

As you and I have discussed, open markets and better trade relations are key components to a more peaceful, a more stable and a more prosperous world. Through expanded trade, the roots of democracy and freedom are deepened. And here at home, trade policy opens markets to create jobs, a higher standard of living and greater economic growth.

For the past four years, Mr. President, you have been passionate about your vision for free and fair trade. And through your personal commitment to it and the tireless work of my good friend Bob Zoellick, former Trade Representative, and his superb team, you have made a lot of progress. I look forward to being able to try to build on that progress.

I would not be here today without the strong support of my family, who have joined us here. I'm fortunate to have a great partner, my wife Jane, who is both the love of my life and the best mother I can possibly imagine. And I couldn't be prouder of my three children, Jed, Will and Sally. They've all given this new responsibility their blessing.

Sally, who is a fourth grader, had to admit that she had never heard of the U.S. Trade Representative. (Laughter.) However, Mr. President, she said, "Dad, it sounds like a really neat job." (Laughter.) And it is, and a very important responsibility during historic times.

It's very tough to imagine leaving Congress and my many friends there, including Speaker Hastert. Dennis Hastert took me under his wing and gave me a seat at the leadership table, and I'll be forever grateful for that. However, if confirmed, I look forward to continuing to work very closely with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of Congress.

I want to thank my superb staff. They have been fantastic for me and for the 2nd District of Ohio. And finally, I owe so much to the constituents of Ohio's 2nd District. I've had the honor to represent them for almost 12 years now, and I'm very proud of what we've been able to accomplish. The people of Southern Ohio, and my hometown of Cincinnati, have given me opportunities to serve that I never dreamed possible. For their friendship and their support, Jane and I will be forever grateful.

Thank you again, Mr. President. I look forward to serving on your team.

END 9:44 A.M. EST

President's Statement on House Passing FY 2006 Budget[edit]

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

I applaud the House for passing a budget that protects America, promotes economic growth, supports our priorities, and keeps us on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. It closely follows my budget proposal and reflects our shared commitment to be wise with the people's money and restrain spending in Washington, D.C.


Personnel Announcement[edit]

President George W. Bush today announced his intention to nominate Rob Portman, of Ohio, to be United States Trade Representative. He currently serves in the United States House of Representatives. Throughout his 12 years in Congress, he has authored numerous bills that have become law including legislation regarding pension laws, capital gains taxes, IRS reform, and community anti-drug efforts. Congressman Portman is a member of the Ways and Means Committee and its subcommittee on Trade. He is also Vice Chairman of the Budget Committee, and he serves as the Chairman of the House Republican Leadership.

Prior to his election to Congress, he practiced business and international law as a partner in the Cincinnati law firm of Graydon, Head and Ritchey. Earlier in his career, Congressman Portman practiced international trade law at the Washington, DC law firm of Patton Boggs. He also served in President George H. W. Bush's Administration as Associate Counsel to the President and later as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. He received his bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College and his J.D. from the University of Michigan.


Personnel Announcement[edit]

President George W. Bush today announced his intention to nominate one individual to serve in his Administration:

The President intends to nominate Joseph H. Boardman, of New York, to be Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration at the Department of Transportation. Mr. Boardman currently serves as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation. He previously served the Department as First Deputy Commissioner and as Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Public Transportation. Prior to that, Mr. Boardman was Chief Operating Officer of Progressive Transportation Services, Inc., in Elmira, New York. Earlier in his career, he served as Commissioner of Public Transportation in Broome, County, New York. Mr. Boardman received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University and his master's degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton.

Personnel Announcement[edit]

NOMINATIONS SENT TO THE SENATE:

Joseph H. Boardman, of New York, to be Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, vice Allan Rutter, resigned.

John Robert Bolton, of Maryland, to be the Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and the Representative of the United States of America in the Security Council of the United Nations.

John Robert Bolton, of Maryland, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations during his tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations.

Stephen L. Johnson, of Maryland, to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, vice Michael O. Leavitt.

John D. Negroponte, of New York, to be Director of National Intelligence. (New Position)

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).