Aid For Hurricane Victims

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President Bush is asking Congress for an additional $691 million to aid victims of hurricanes and other natural disasters.

The election-year price tag for recent emergencies is surging toward $13 billion. The latest request includes money for damage caused by Hurricane Jeanne, which was the last of four major hurricanes that lashed Florida, Alabama and other states in the South and East over the past several months.

Congress has already approved $2 billion for hurricane victims. It has yet to act on two other requests totaling $10.2 billion that Bush made last month.

On a separate but politically related track, Republican lawmakers and administration officials continue exploring whether they could shrink a Senate-passed $3 billion package of assistance for farmers and ranchers. They've been hit by drought, floods or other weather problems.

Democrats are seeking to capitalize on what could be a risky effort by Republicans. It involves trimming disaster aid for farmers in political battleground states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, even as hurricane aid grows ever larger.