WASHINGTON - House and Senate conferees will plunge into budget negotiations this week faced with a warning from the White House not to try scaling back the budget package's overall goal of $500 billion in deficit reductions over the next five years.

Sen. John Breaux, D-La., and some other members of Congress have suggested that reducing the goal to $400 billion would enable the conferees to drop the plan's controversial energy tax, which would raise $72 billion under the House version of the bill and $23 billion under the Senate version.

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