For John, BLUF: Yes, in the past the US Senate has been a powerful institution. However, the Senate, in a bipartisan way, has given up pieces of its power. Nothing to see here; just move along.
From The Washington Post, by 70 Former Senators, including John Kerry (D-Mass.), 25 February 2020.
Here is the lede plus one:
An open letter to the U.S. Senate:I agree that the Senate has forfeited its powers to the Executive Branch, which is only to eager to take them. I am not sure the Senators are prepared to work together to reclaim those powers.
Congress is not fulfilling its Constitutional duties. Much of the responsibility rests on the Senate. We are writing to encourage the creation of a bipartisan caucus of incumbent senators who would be committed to making the Senate function as the Framers of the Constitution intended.
As their first priority, the Framers explicitly entrusted all legislative responsibility in Article I of the Constitution: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” To the extent that Congress doesn’t function as the Framers intended, policymaking is left to the less democratic executive and judicial branches.
Examples of Congress ceding its powers to the executive through the years include the power to regulate international trade, the power to authorize the use of military force in foreign conflicts and, when the president declares national emergencies, the power of the purse. In addition, the partisan gridlock that is all too routine in recent decades has led the executive branch to effectively “legislate” on its own terms through executive order and administrative regulation. The Senate’s abdication of its legislative and oversight responsibilities erodes the checks and balances of the separate powers that are designed to protect the liberties on which our democracy depends.
But, I have no alternatives and hope springs eternal.
Regards — Cliff