(Not sure if this belongs in GQ, please feel free to move it elsewhere.)
In movies and TV shows set in the United States, we are often shown a senator as some sort of important decision maker. See Stargate XG-1, the early X-Men movies, Eureka, etc. Secret agency directors and high-ranking military officials are shown taking orders from a senator. Character A asks Character B: “Do you really want Senator X to find out about this?”, and so on.
I’m from Canada (where the Senate is a bunch of unelected, elderly people who ratify laws).
I’m aware that there are only 2 senators per state, etc., but they’re still just elected officials who get to propose bills and vote on them. Oh, and act as a court once in a while. And I’ve heard of McCarthy.
The question: Is there any context where an individual senator (not acting on behalf of the Armed Services Committee) will end up giving orders to, or requiring reports from, an agency head or an officer in the military? Or is this just a mechanism used in fiction to avoid having to invoke the White House all the time?
(Let’s assume the elected president and vice-president are alive and sane.)