From NPR: How Does 1 Man Have So Much Power Without Being President?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky walks off the House floor in April. In his chamber, McConnell can decide virtually by himself what the Senate will do — and even what it will consider doing.   Andrew Harnik/AP

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky walks off the House floor in April. In his chamber, McConnell can decide virtually by himself what the Senate will do — and even what it will consider doing.

Andrew Harnik/AP

By Ron Elving

"How does one man have so much power?"

One hears that question asked in Washington a lot these days, often with exasperation and bewilderment.

And it is not always a reference to President Trump.

Quite often, the man in question is Mitch McConnell, the Republican senator from Kentucky.

The man who calls himself the "Grim Reaper" — of signature Democratic initiatives.

McConnell's status stems from his office as the Senate majority leader — elected by his party colleagues to lead their conference in the chamber. But few who have held this office have been able to wield it with this kind of results.

In today's Senate, McConnell can decide virtually by himself what the chamber will do — and even what it will consider doing.

You may have first noticed McConnell early in 2016 when he proclaimed the Senate would not consider any nominee appointed by President Obama to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia. McConnell made this announcement on his own, within hours of Scalia's death.

This year, McConnell has issued similar summary judgments on House-passed bills to reform election laws, combat foreign interference in U.S. elections and strengthen gun control.

In each of these instances, the question arose: How can one man make this kind of momentous decision and make it stick?

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