Senate Seeks New Avenues for Highway Funding

WASHINGTON Feb 7 (Reuters) - As Washington struggles to find ways to pay for highway and road repairs, the U.S. Senate is considering relying on a wide array of revenue sources that go far beyond the traditional gas tax, including measures such as changes in how inherited retirement accounts are taxed.

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved legislation for funding highway and road repairs that is a radical departure from the financing bill currently in the House of Representatives.

Republicans, in the minority in the Senate, criticized it for using revenues collected over a decade for spending within two years and relying on funds not directly related to transportation.

"When we cannot find more revenue from the...usual sources, we have focused on funding that bears a nexus to transportation," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus. "We have therefore explored funding from transportation and energy sources. These include revenues from import tariffs on foreign cars."

The Senate bill would mostly rely on extending the gas tax, which goes into trust funds for highways and transit, through September 2015. But with the Congressional Budget Office recently projecting the trust funds will soon run out of money, leaders are digging for dollars in other areas.

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