“Beyond Policy: Procedural Politics in Today’s Congress”
Members of Congress often talk about congressional procedure in principled terms. However, political scientists have long argued that questions about the rules are really questions about who has power in the chamber and what policy outcomes can they produce with it. This dynamic has been in the spotlight repeatedly during the opening months of the 115th Congress, where procedures like the Congressional Review Act, the budget reconciliation process, and those for confirming Supreme Court justices have been key to Republicans’ record. In the contemporary Congress, procedural politics reach beyond just policy outcomes and into other issues, including executive branch oversight and congressional capacity. Taken together, these various roles for congressional procedure suggest that understanding the rules of the institution is as important now as ever.
Molly Reynolds is a fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings. She studies Congress, with an emphasis on how congressional rules and procedure affect domestic policy outcomes. Current research projects include work on the congressional budget process, especially the consequences of broader partisan dynamics on the consideration of the yearly budget resolution and appropriations bills, and on the consequences of federalism for national policymaking in the current period of unified Republican party control. She also supervises the maintenance of “Vital Statistics on Congress,” Brookings’s long-running resource on the first branch of government.
Reynolds received her Ph.D. in political science and public policy from the University of Michigan and her A.B. in government from Smith College, and previously served as a senior research coordinator in the Governance Studies program at Brookings. In addition, she has served as an instructor at George Mason University.