Niels Lesniewski

Inauguration Master of Ceremonies Is Sweating the Details
Security is Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt’s obsession

The senator who presides over the presidential inauguration as the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies wins some appreciation from colleagues on Capitol Hill. But the job’s risks are greater than any public accolades it brings.

If Sen. Roy Blunt does his job  well, the new president, Donald Trump, will shine. Only if something goes wrong on Jan. 20 will the Missouri Republican get any attention off the Hill.

HHS Nominee Might Not Be Confirmed Until Mid-February, Says Senator
Alexander’s timeline pushes Obamacare repeal and replace toward March

Even as senators began grinding through a budget resolution that sets up a repeal of the 2010 health care law, the timeline for striking President Barack Obama’s biggest legislative legacy appeared to be slipping.

President-elect Donald Trump said at a news conference Wednesday in New York City that a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would come once Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Rep. Tom Price of Georgia wins confirmation.

Ep. 36: Congress Set to Revoke Last-Minute Obama Regulations ... But There's a Risk
The Big Story

CQ Roll Call's Senate leadership reporter Niels Lesniewski walks us through how the GOP-controlled Congress can roll out the Congressional Review Act to rescind some of President Barack Obama’s last-minute regulations.

Press Secretaries Group Seeking to Welcome Senate Newcomers
Bipartisan organization gearing up for February trip to New York

Senators need to work across the aisle if they want to get much done.

The same can be said for their staff members, even the communications shops that alternate between partisan blasts and collaborating on news conferences, hearings and releases about bipartisan legislation.

Chao Drives Toward Quick Confirmation
Transportation designee wins bipartisan praise at Commerce Committee

On Wednesday morning, Sen. Mitch McConnell’s most important title in the Senate wasn’t majority leader. It was husband.

“I regret that I have but one wife to give for my country’s infrastructure,” the Kentucky Republican quipped at the confirmation hearing for his spouse, Transportation Secretary nominee Elaine L. Chao. The line was borrowed from former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, whose wife, Elizabeth, once held the same Cabinet post.

Senators Warn Tillerson About Backing New Russia Sanctions
Secretary of State nominee will face questions about Russian hacking Wednesday

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson might face hurdles to getting confirmed if he does not back a bipartisan plan to impose new sanctions on the Russian Federation.

Foreign Relations Ranking Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland led a bipartisan group of 10 senators in introducing expanded Russian sanctions legislation Tuesday in response to what the intelligence community has concluded was Kremlin hacking of the Democratic National Committee and military actions including the incursion into Ukraine.

Fish on a Treadmill and Other Waste, According to Jeff Flake
Arizona Republican plans another push for a permanent earmark ban

Sen. Jeff Flake highlights 50 examples of questionable, even frivolous federal spending in the latest edition of his government wastebook.

Flake calls the latest volume “Wastebook: PORKémon Go.” All told, the Arizona Republican’s office says it details more than $5 billion in inappropriate spending by federal departments and agencies.

Booker Breaks Precedent by Testifying Against Sessions
Says AG designee’s record is ’concerning in a number of ways’

Sen. Cory Booker will on Wednesday take the apparently unprecedented step of testifying against the confirmation of fellow Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama to be attorney general, a move that could firm up Booker’s progressive bona fides ahead of a possible 2020 presidential bid.

“I do not take lightly the decision to testify against a Senate colleague,” Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, said in a statement. “But the immense powers of the attorney general, combined with the deeply troubling views of this nominee is a call to conscience.”

House and Senate Preview: Obamacare Repeal Set Up and Trump Cabinet Hearings

As Senate Democrats prepare for a late night on the floor Monday to defend the Affordable Care Act, Roll Call reporters Rema Rahman and Niels Lesniewski detail what to expect from both chambers of Congress in the coming week. From confirmation hearings on Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks to a vote-a-rama that sets up an Obamacare repeal, Rahman and Lesniewski detail what we know now....
Ethics Office Hasn’t Gotten Financial Disclosures From All Trump Nominees
OGE chief warns against hearings before records are vetted

Updated 1:30 p.m. | The Office of Government Ethics warns there is “cause for alarm” if the Senate proceeds with confirmation hearings for some of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees whose financial and other paperwork has not been certified by the agency.

In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York and Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren that was released Saturday, OGE Director Walter M. Shaub Jr. says some of Trump’s nominees have yet to provide even preliminary financial disclosures to the federal ethics watchdog and that some nominees who are scheduled for Senate confirmation hearings have not completed the ethics review process.

Corker Concerned About Repealing Obamacare Taxes Without Replacement
Could force Republicans to raise taxes later

Sen. Bob Corker says Republicans need to be wary of a potential “box canyon” if they repeal Obamacare without a replacement in the queue.

The Tennessee Republican said Friday morning that he wants his colleagues to pay more attention to the fiscal issues with the effort to repeal Obamacare.

Inauguration Tickets and Map Revealed
Jan. 20 event at the Capitol now has an official memento and guidelines

With Inauguration Day just 15 days away, the event has an official ticket for those who are lucky enough to procure a spot on the Capitol’s west side for prime viewing. 

President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. at noon on Friday, Jan. 20. 

Joe Manchin: Trump Whisperer?
Democratic senator met Wednesday with Pence

After picking the Senate over a possible job in Donald Trump’s Cabinet, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III is trying to play the bridge-builder role between the Senate Democratic caucus and the incoming administration.

Manchin told reporters that he spoke with Vice President-elect Mike Pence after Wednesday’s party caucus lunches about Republican designs to repeal the 2010 health care law. Pence attended the Republican conference’s lunch meeting, as he plans to do regularly when he is in town while vice president.

Schumer Builds Press Team for Leader’s Office
Minority leader mixes new and old in communications shop

Fresh off a media whirlwind on his first day as Senate minority leader, Sen. Charles E. Schumer is rolling out his expanded press operation.

The constantly media-conscious New York Democrat is bringing some new faces to the Senate Democratic war room, with other longtime aides taking new or expanded roles.

Joe Biden and the Selfies
Vice president presides over mock Senate swearing-in ceremonies one last time

“It won't be the same without you,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune told Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., while gathering family members for the ceremonial re-enactment of his swearing-in on Tuesday.

Because the vice president’s term runs until noon on Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, it is the departing Biden who got one last chance to kiss wives, hug babies, and offer dating advice on the first day of the new Congress.

Dean Heller Not Running for Governor of Nevada
Says via Facebook he plans to continue in the Senate

Sen. Dean Heller has decided he would rather seek re-election in the Senate than run for governor of Nevada.

Heller, a Republican, is one of a small number of potentially vulnerable GOP incumbents on a map that looks tough for Democrats across the board.

Obama Declares Bears Ears National Monument While Utah Lawmakers Pledge Fight
The president will designate two new national monuments

Retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is getting one last victory from President Barack Obama.

But the Nevada Democrat’s joy will surely be met with matching outrage from the Republican senators in neighboring Utah after the Obama administration announced on Wednesday the designation of two long-rumored new national monuments under the Antiquities Act.

Outgoing DCCC Executive Director Moves to Obama’s Redistricting Group
Kelly Ward taking role with Obama-Holder effort

After two election cycles as the executive director of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, Kelly Ward has a new challenge: helping to lead a coordinated Democratic redistricting effort ahead of new map drawings following the 2020 census.

Ward will be the interim executive director of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a group led by President Barack Obama and former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

Democrats to Demand Trump Veto Changes to Medicare and Social Security
Pelosi, Sanders and Schumer want colleagues hosting health care rallies ahead of inauguration

The top Democrats in the House and Senate want President-elect Donald Trump to pledge to veto legislation that would slash Medicare and Social Security benefits.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York joined with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in a “Dear Colleague” letter that asks members of Congress to hold rallies and events on Jan. 15 (the Sunday before Trump’s inauguration) to oppose the Republican budget plan.

House Republicans Plot Rules Overhaul for GOP-Controlled Government
Changes go beyond penalizing members for shooting video on the floor

A proposal to punish members for streaming video on the House floor will get the most attention, but other parts of a draft House rules package might have more substantial implications for the start of the Donald Trump administration.

The draft rules, circulated to member offices shortly before Christmas, includes language that would allow the sergeant-at-arms to fine members up to $2,500 for breaking the rules regarding photography and recording on the House floor.