Senate Democrats plan to take their version of campaign finance overhaul to the floor after efforts to draft compromise legislation with Republicans broke down over the question of spending ceilings, aides said yesterday.

The issue has been the main sticking point between the parties for nearly two years as Democrats insist on limiting the amount of money that could be spent in a campaign and Republicans resist.

"We were unable to reach a decision because of our inability to agree on whether or not there should be an overall aggregate limit on campaign spending," Sen. David L. Boren (D-Okla.), leader of his party's efforts on the issue, said yesterday in a statement.

"Those on our side of the aisle simply believe that there can never be true campaign reform unless we end runaway spending and the never-ending chase for more and more money," Boren said.

Boren hopes that threatening to force votes on the Democratic bill on the floor will get the talks going again, his aides said.

Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) had said he would take the Democrats' campaign finance measure to the floor with or without agreement with Republicans.

The negotiations, which began late last month, broke down Thursday night after their fifth session. Republicans were surprised because the previous meetings had been productive, according to an aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), chief GOP bargainer.

Agreement had been near on such issues as limiting the amount of money that could be raised outside a candidate's home state and requiring broadcasters to guarantee candidates the lowest available rates for campaign commercials, according to aides to the lawmakers.

"We were willing to negotiate on every other issue including ending {political action committees} and reducing any public financing component of the bill," Boren's statement said. "In conscience we could not yield on the question of putting a limit on overall spending because it is the essence of reform."

When the Senate considers the Democratic measure, McConnell plans to offer amendments covering broadcast advertising rates, unregulated or "soft" money chiefly raised and spent by political parties and labor unions and banning PACs.