The U.S. Senate approved $10.5 billion in emergency disaster relief for Katrina last night, and the House of Representatives is expected to approve the measure this morning.
Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman has other priorities in mind. In an e-mail he sent yesterday, Mehlman called on the Senate to eliminate the estate tax. And he urged his supporters to call their senators -- "today" -- to demand that they get on board with the plan.
The message arrived in our in box at just about the same time Scott McClellan was pushing away criticism of the president by saying, "This is not the time for politics."
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has asked Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to table talk of the estate tax in the wake of Katrina, saying that members of the Senate "would have great difficulty explaining why we were debating the estate tax during our first days back when we know hundreds of thousands of families are suffering."
What should Washington be doing next? Blogger Stirling Newberry has put together the kind of agenda that neither the president nor Senate Democrats seem capable of developing on their own: Provide funding to restore transportation along the Gulf Coast by cutting 5 percent across the board from the pork-laden transportation bill Bush just signed; postpone enactment of the bankruptcy bill for six months in areas hit by the hurricane; and restore funding for flood control throughout the nation by imposing a 1 percent surtax on incomes in excess of $250,000.