Harry Reid is one of 100 senators, but so far in 2014, he’s been responsible for one-third of all the amendments proposed on the Senate floor — a number that underscores just how much one man has come to dominate the legislative process.
More so than House Speaker John A. Boehner or even President Obama, it is Mr. Reid, a Nevada Democrat in his eighth year as majority leader, who has the most single-handed power to shape what gets done and what falls to the wayside in Washington.
Mr. Reid is increasingly bullish on using that power, deciding what bills make it to his chamber floor, what amendments will be allowed to those bills that do get there and whether the debate will become a serious policy discussion or a political tool designed to rally his party’s supporters and annoy his tea party opponents.
His control has been of incalculable benefit to both Mr. Obama, who is able to avoid embarrassing legislative rebukes, and to Senate Democrats, who are sometimes able to avoid having to take tough votes that could cost them the support of voters back home.
“It is quite disgraceful,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, fumed on the chamber floor earlier this year in what has become a running debate with Mr. Reid. “But it’s no surprise either, since the Democratic majority clearly ran out of ideas a long time ago. Their refusal to engage in serious debate is just another symptom of that.”