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The House of Representatives passed a bill to partially fund the government.

Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, then came out and said that the Senate would not consider that bill, that they wouldn't waste time on it, and that it wouldn't get passed either way (despite the fact that a similar bill actually was passed by the Senate not too long ago).

U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday the Senate will not consider bills Democrats plan to vote on in the House on Thursday that would end the government shutdown but not include President Donald Trump’s demand for $5 billion for a border wall.

“The Senate will not waste its time considering a Democratic bill which cannot pass this chamber and which the president will not sign,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

"Senate will not consider House Democratic bills to end shutdown: Republican McConnell", Reuters

Now I ask the obvious question: how come McConnell is in a position to decide what bill gets voted on? How does that make any sense? Doesn't that grant him enormous amount of power, as he basically can decide for himself what bill gets voted on and what doesn't get voted on? In that case, can't he just prevent voting on any bill that he himself doesn't want to see signed, thereby nullifying the power of the rest of the Senate? How in the world does any of this make sense? Doesn't he just have the entire game by the balls then?

And further, why is he claiming that the Senate won't pass the bill, when it did pass an identical bill not too long ago?

  • 4
    I had to protect this question due to a new user posting several nonsense answers under different new accounts. – Philipp Jan 5 at 1:49
  • Related question with regards to the Speaker of the House – Panda Jan 5 at 2:45
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    The senate can always vote to remove McConnell from his position. So there is a limit to his power. – Thomas Jan 5 at 4:14
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    The "and further" part seems like a separate question. – stannius Jan 6 at 19:04
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https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing/Majority_Minority_Leaders.htm

The Senate Republican and Democratic floor leaders are elected by the members of their party in the Senate at the beginning of each Congress. Depending on which party is in power, one serves as majority leader and the other as minority leader. The leaders serve as spokespersons for their party's positions on issues. The majority leader schedules the daily legislative program and fashions the unanimous consent agreements that govern the time for debate.

Also, an excellent diagram and explanation can be found here: https://lowenthal.house.gov/legislation/bill-to-law.htm#floor

FLOOR ACTION - Legislation is placed on the Calendar
Senate: Legislation is placed on the Legislative Calendar. There is also an Executive calendar to deal with treaties and nominations. Scheduling of legislation is the job of the Majority Leader. Bills can be brought to the floor whenever a majority of the Senate chooses.

So, as per the senate rules, ML can indeed decide what is allowed or not allowed to be voted on, by controlling the schedule.

Note that the Majority Leader only has control over votes on the bills. Not over whether they are introduced into the Senate at all.

The rest of your question poses subquestions of value judgement of that fact, which can't be answered objectively in SE format.

  • Is this "majority leader" arrangement in the constitution, law, or just custom? – Paul Johnson Jan 5 at 14:31
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    @PaulJohnson - as far as I can tell, Senate rules, but don't have a specific site on where in the rules that is. Definitely NOT constutution. – user4012 Jan 5 at 16:31
  • It's interesting that the House has a mechanism for the "mob" to overrule the leadership and force Bills to the floor for consideration and a vote. I'm not aware of any similar Senate mechanism, which makes the Senate Majority Leader position a lot more powerful than the Speaker of the House (unless there is a sudden vacancy in both the President and Vice-Presidential offices, of course). – PoloHoleSet Jan 7 at 17:55
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why is he claiming that the Senate won't pass the bill, when it did pass an identical bill not too long ago?

The Senate passed the bill 100-0 as they understood President Trump supported it and would sign it. Now the President has made it clear he doesn't support it then the calculus has changed and it is likely that, at the very least, a substantial number of GOP Senators will not support it on a further vote.

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How come McConnell is in a position to decide what bill gets voted on?

Someone has to. The Senate is given latitude to decide exactly who, and they came up with this system.

How does that make any sense?

It seems at least as sensible as having votes on "what to have votes on".

Doesn't that grant him enormous amount of power, as he basically can decide for himself what bill gets voted on and what doesn't get voted on?

For a short time. Remember that he can be removed from this position in a much shorter time-frame than "once every six years".

In that case, can't he just prevent voting on any bill that he himself doesn't want to see signed, thereby nullifying the power of the rest of the Senate?

Again, only for a short time.

In this particular case, what he's actually doing is letting all the other R senators off the hook of U-turning on spending bill basically identical to the one they previously unanimously passed. If those republicans actually wanted that bill to be passed, they'd replace him, or, more likely, he'd schedule a vote.

protected by Philipp Jan 5 at 1:48

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