WASHINGTON -- The House Ways and Means Committee yesterday approved a four-year gasoline tax extension to finance the $151 billion highway bill, despite protests from committee Republicans over both the tax extension and the bill's hundred of "pork-barrel" provisions.

In a sigh both issues could continue to haunt the mammoth six-year bill as it goes to the House floor next week and then into conference in the Senate, Republicans warned that the Bush administration will oppose both the bill's excessive spending provisions and its tax extension. The extension would continue the 2 1/2 cents a gallon gas tax increase enacted as part of the budget agreement last year for four more years.

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