WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is giving Sen. John McCain, his potential rival for the Republican presidential nomination, an opportunity to show his new openness to tax reduction by scheduling repeal or reduction of the estate tax for consideration the week of May 4.
McCain was prepared to vote for cloture on repeal of the estate tax shortly after Labor Day last year, but consideration was postponed indefinitely after Hurricane Katrina. Backers of McCain for president have promised he will support at least reduction of the estate tax, going along with his recent vote for reduced dividend and capital gains taxes.
A footnote: McCain disturbed supply-siders during the recent budget debate by being one of five Republicans supporting a Democratic proposal mandating, in effect, tax increases to compensate for higher spending. It failed on a 50 to 50 vote.
TROUBLE AT TREASURY
Senior officials at the Treasury report that Secretary John Snow is vowing he will not resign his post if it means he would be replaced even temporarily by Deputy Secretary Robert Kimmit.
Kimmit, a protege of former Secretary James Baker, antagonized Snow and other Treasury colleagues when he testified to Congress that he was not responsible for the now discarded Dubai Ports deal. Kimmit was supposed to be in charge of such arrangements.
Snow's replacement in the Cabinet long has been rumored, but no successor has been selected. The latest speculation has centered around Rob Portman, who after the 2004 elections resigned his congressional seat from Ohio to become U.S. trade representative.
In a role reversal, Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky is hosting a "special re-election fund-raising dinner" (top ticket: $5,000) for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay April 4 at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill.
DeLay's rise to power in House Republican ranks had been built on his raising campaign money for colleagues. Now, those colleagues are helping finance his difficult re-election campaign for his Houston area district.
Rogers is a "Cardinal" on the House Appropriations Committee, where he heads the Homeland Security Subcommittee. If DeLay is re-elected and is acquitted of criminal charges, he is expected to get an Appropriations subcommittee chairmanship (possibly on the way to being committee chairman).
Former Rep. Pete McCloskey, the liberal Republican attempting a comeback congressional campaign in California, faces charges of association with an organization accused of Holocaust denial.