Document Type


Publication Date



Observers of Congress often cite the budget process as evidence of the institution’s contemporary dysfunction. Indeed, in the past ten years, the House and Senate have failed to agree on a budget resolution six times and Congress has failed to pass nearly all of its appropriations bills before the October 1 deadline. This inability to fulfill one of its basic responsibilities is often blamed on increasingly polarized congressional parties attempting to leverage the process to their advantages. Is this claim accurate? How have partisan dynamics in the budget process changed over time? How can we make the process work better in light of current levels of partisanship and polarization? Will the 2016 elections have consequences for the budget process? In this lecture, I will address these and other related questions, relying in part of new data on the use (and possible abuse) of various procedural aspects of the budget process, especially in the U.S. Senate.


Budget process; Political parties; United States. Congress


Public Affairs | Public Policy

File Format


File Size

1.465 KB

Streaming Media




Event sponsored by Brookings Mountain West

Molly Reynolds, Ph.D., is a Brookings Institution governance studies fellow.

Greenspun Auditorium University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Downloadable video is 70.1 MB, MP4 format

Attached file: 32 PowerPoint slides

Reynolds_Lect_PartisanPolitics.pdf (1464 kB)
PowerPoint presentation