Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Kenneth P. Miller

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© 2013 Anna Eames


The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 made the production of an annual comprehensive budgetary framework the central focus of the federal budget process. Before 1974, the budget process had allowed legislation from each of the revenue committees and each of the appropriations subcommittees to come to the floor separately. Congress judged the merits of individual programs without considering the overall budget. The 1974 budget act changed the organizational ethos of the budget process from incremental change to comprehensive review and from fragmented, ad hoc decision making to coordinated decision making. It helped sort members into ideologically homogenous groups by transforming many battles over separate policy priorities into one grand battle over the biggest question in American politics: What is the role of government? The 1974 shift to comprehensive budgeting, along with subsequent additional controls on budget practices, has magnified and accelerated the effects of the many polarizing forces that have characterized the last 40 years of American politics. With this conclusion come unanswered questions regarding the merits of a distinct two-party system, as well as the potential need for comprehensive budgeting despite its political challenges.


  • Best Senior Thesis in Government