Lawmakers on Wednesday urged Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to provide more details on how much taxpayer money the Obama administration's bank rescue plan ultimately will cost.
Geithner declined to speculate on the likelihood the administration will ask for more funds beyond the roughly $350 billion remaining in the original $700 bailout program, but he told the Senate Budget Committee that further requests are possible.
That did not satisfy Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
"So you have no clue," Graham said. "Why not just ask for more? We know you will," she said.
Committee Chairman Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., defended the administration but agreed the financial bailout likely will cost more than the original $700 billion.
"People have got to take a deep breath here," he told reporters after the hearing. "This administration has been in office for two weeks."
Conrad estimated that it will take $300 billion to $500 billion more in taxpayer funds to fully bail out the financial system, an amount that he said members of Congress could grant.
"These are unhappy circumstances," Conrad said. "But most people around here know we've got to respond in a way that's effective."