WASHINGTON — Democrats controlling the House are promising to freeze the budgets of most Cabinet departments while wrapping Congress' unfinished annual spending bills into a single catchall measure.
The 423-page measure, released in the wee hours Wednesday, would cap the agencies' operating budgets at $1.2 trillion, the level of the budget year that ended in September. That's more than 3 percent less than President Barack Obama asked for.
There are many exceptions to the freeze. Health care programs for veterans and the military would get a boost, as would the Pell Grant program for low-income college students. People serving in the military would get a 1.4 percent pay raise, but civilian federal workers would have their salaries frozen, as requested by Obama last week.
The bill also would provide $159 billion to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A widely backed food safety bill is hitching a ride on the legislation. The measure passed the Senate by a 73-25 vote last week but got caught in a snag because it contained revenue provisions that, under the Constitution, must originate in the House.