WASHINGTON – Eager to take a quick, $35 billion bite out of government, House Republicans called for termination of at least 60 federal programs Wednesday and cuts in hundreds of others, targeting education and the environment, food safety and law enforcement.

In a blunt challenge to President Obama, the plan calls for eliminating a high-speed rail program that the administration has ticketed for a multibillion-dollar expansion. It also recommends ending federal support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, family planning services and AmeriCorps.

Also, the government’s principal nutrition program for pregnant women would be cut 6 percent below last year’s level.

The proposal marks an initial attempt by newly empowered Republicans to cut spending and reduce the size of the federal government. Yet it sets the stage for weeks of political combat as Democrats seek to blunt the cuts while tea party-backed conservatives demand more of them.

Republicans are “keeping our pledge to the American people that we will cut spending,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said after details were outlined for the rank and file at a closed-door meeting.

Preliminary details of the plan emerged just before Obama hosted Boehner and his two top lieutenants at a White House lunch.

Reacting mildly to the recommended cuts, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs cited a “broad agreement that we have to change the way Washington works, particularly as it relates to spending.”

At the same time, he said, “We have to do so in a way that protects the important investments so that we can win the future,” signaling the president will fight to protect his own priorities.

Republicans withheld many of the details of their proposal, which officials said was undergoing final changes before legislation is filed.

According to material presented by Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, the cuts would stretch across a vast range of domestic programs, from the EPA to housing, the weather service, food safety and inspection, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Community Development Block Grant, which provides funding for municipalities, also would be cut.