Senate Democrats say they plan to take up a bill to extend federal highway programs next week, even though they haven't figured out yet how to pay for them without raiding the general treasury.

The Senate Finance Committee was struggling Tuesday to find about $12 billion to make up the shortfall between the $109 billion the bill proposes to spend and the money raised through federal gasoline taxes, the principal source of highway funds.

Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat who is the committee's chairman, said he planned to pay for a two-year bill with provisions that raise money over 10 years. His plan would still be several billion dollars short.

Baucus also promised to find a replacement for a key money-raising provision before the Senate votes on the bill.

 

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