WASHINGTON, Nov 8 (Reuters): The US House of Representatives this week will try to approve nearly $54 billion in spending cuts, and Republican leaders yesterday were still looking at ways to fine-tune the measure to avert defeat.
The budget bill might be debated on the House floor Thursday, according to a senior House Republican aide.
But the aide, who asked not to be identified, said House leaders were still "figuring out how that package clears the House floor" and were discussing whether any of the more controversial elements of the package might be jettisoned.
Under pressure from Republican conservatives to find more savings over five years than the $36 billion approved by the Senate last week, the House legislation would reduce the number of legal immigrants who would qualify for food stamps and require tougher application procedures for all others wanting food stamps.
Those savings, coupled with controversial plans to open previously protected areas to oil drilling and to save money in child welfare and health care for the poor, have made many Republicans nervous.
A budget debate to change federal programmes for the poor comes as Republicans in Congress are beginning to move tax-cut legislation that might include renewed breaks for the rich. The juxtaposition puts more than a dozen moderate House Republicans in a difficult spot.