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Shawn Zeller


Shawn Zeller is a senior writer for CQ Weekly. He is responsible for the magazine's Vantage Point section and writes about a variety of topics including lobbying, politics, regulation and civil service issues. In 2008, he helped cover the presidential campaign for Politifact.com, a joint project of CQ and the St. Petersburg Times that was awarded a 2009 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for its campaign coverage.

Zeller came to CQ in June 2005 after two years as a staff correspondent with Government Executive magazine. There, he covered government human resources issues and civil service reform. Prior to that, he was a reporter for National Journal for six years. In that role, he covered lobbying and developed the magazine's semi-annual top 10 survey of Washington lobbying firms.

Zeller is a 1997 graduate of Harvard College where he earned a degree in American History and Literature. He's from Boston originally.

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Stories by Shawn Zeller:

NSA Law Now Faces Test: Will It Really Work?

June 8, 2015

A crucial moment in the debate this past month over the National Security Agencyís access to Americansí phone records in terrorism investigations came on May 20, two days before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to squelch House legislation that would restrict that access.

NSA Track Record Prompts Senate Skepticism

June 8, 2015

Senators brushed off Majority Leader Mitch McConnellís concerns about the viability of requiring the National Security Agency to go to the phone companies to get records in terrorism investigations and easily passed the USA Freedom Act last week.

McConnell Defeated With Passage of the USA Freedom Act

June 2, 2015

Handing Mitch McConnell his biggest legislative defeat since he became majority leader this year, senators voted down all of the Kentuckianís amendments to Patriot Act reauthorization legislation.

McConnell Agrees to Senate Vote on Surveillance Overhaul

May 19, 2015

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he would permit a vote on House-passed legislation to restrict the National Security Agency's authority to review data about Americans' phone calls.

"I certainly think we ought to allow a vote on the House-passed bill," said McConnell, R-Ky. "If there aren't enough votes to pass that, we need to look at an alternative."

The House passed the bill, known as the USA Freedom Act, last week by a vote of 338-88, putting considerable pressure on McConnell to allow a vote on the Senate companion by Republican Mike Lee of Utah. It would reauthorize section 215 of the 2001 Patriot Act, the provision that undergirds the NSA program, but set new limits on it.

McConnell opposes the House bill because it would bar the NSA from continuing its current practice of collecting records of all Americans' phone calls in its own database.

GOP Wants Review of Internet Governance Handover

May 18, 2015

The Obama administrationís plan to relinquish U.S. control of the Internetís architecture to a group of international stakeholders isnít going over well on Capitol Hill.

Dotcom Act Would Require Deal Review

May 18, 2015

House Republicans are pushing legislation, known as the Dotcom Act, that aims to give Congress a say in the terms of the handover of the Internetís address system to international stakeholders.

Sharing Threat Intel Is Voluntary in New Bills

April 27, 2015

Neither cybersecurity bill passed by the House last week would require that companies share information about cyber-threats. Itís voluntary.

A Cybersecurity Turf War at Home and Abroad

April 27, 2015

The House passed not one, but two, bills last week to provide immunity from consumer lawsuits to companies that share with each other, and with the government, information about cyber-threats and attacks on their networks.

In Comcast's Failed Merger, a Victory for Al Franken

April 25, 2015

Lawmakers use congressional hearings and letters to wield influence over corporate mergers - and that was† certainly the case with Sen. Al Franken and the now-failed Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal.

114th Congress Has Hands-Off Approach to Post-Ferguson Police Issues

April 20, 2015

After the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last August and the protests against police brutality that ensued, it seemed a bipartisan consensus had emerged in Washington that something was deeply wrong with law enforcement in majority-black communities. Protesters demanded Congress correct disparities in policing that make it far more likely for a black person to die in custody than a white one.

Vote Study Shows Obama Gets His Way in GOP-Controlled Senate

April 20, 2015

Republicans took the Senate in 2014 by stressing the data that CQ Roll Callís presidential support vote study revealed: Democrats in red states were sticking close to President Barack Obama. So hereís a surprise: the new GOP majority in 2015 is voting Obamaís way as often as they ever have.

Cleaver Sees Potential in Administration's Action on Police Brutality

April 20, 2015

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo., has been frustrated in his attempts to get Congress to move on an overhaul of police practices.

Congress' Surveillance Views Have Changed

April 13, 2015

When Congress last reauthorized the Patriot Act in 2011, it went fairly easily. A majority of House Democrats objected, but support was strong among House Republicans and in both parties in the Senate. But lawmakers began to have second thoughts last year.

Conservatives Push for Patriot Act Limits as June 1 Expiration Date Nears

April 13, 2015

With key provisions of the Patriot Act set to expire on June 1, conservative advocacy groups are telling Republican lawmakers they should make significant changes to the governmentís authority to collect data about Americans.

Patent Overhaul Lobbyists Battle It Out

March 16, 2015

As lobbying coalitions go, United for Patent Reform looks fierce as it wades into whatís expected to be one of 2015ís highest-profile lobbying duels in Congress.

Patent Reform Coalition Tries to Please Both Parties, Chambers

March 16, 2015

The United for Patent Reform coalition has to win over congressional Democrats, who hold the key to getting a patent bill out of Congress, as well as Senate Republicans, who must feel confident the issue is important enough to risk bringing up in the face of potential Democratic roadblocks.

Hotels Move to Make 911 Dialing Easier for Guests

Feb. 23, 2015

Republicans often push voluntary programs to avert the need for new regulations, with mixed success. In the case of Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Ajit Paiís campaign to get hotels to allow direct 911 calls from their rooms, so far so good.

FCC Calls for Greater Accuracy in 911 Call Locations

Feb. 23, 2015

Although 7 out of 10 emergency calls are made from cellphones, the location data sent to help 911 responders go to the right place is notoriously inaccurate. In response to an outcry from members of Congress, the Federal Communications Commission is trying to fix the problem. But itís going to be a slow process.

Congress is Good at Shrinking One Part of Government

Jan. 20, 2015

Your average House member represented 710,767 people in 2010. The same lawmaker represented 469,088 people in 1970. Despite the 52 percent increase in constituents, each House member today can have no more than 18 staff members, a limit that hasnít changed since 1975.

Press Galleries Pushing McCarthy for 'Pen and Pad' Briefings

Sept. 17, 2014

Members of the Capitol Hill press corps are pushing for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to reinstate weekly ďpen and padĒ briefings to discuss the agenda, a tradition that ended with former Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

Senate Approps Wants You! (To Talk About Research)

April 18, 2014

The Senate Appropriations Committee took to Twitter to solicit ideas for an upcoming hearing on federal investments in innovation.

House to Vote Next Week on Abortion Ban Bill

Jan. 22, 2014

Updated 4:45 p.m. | The House will vote next week on legislation to bar federal funding for abortions, Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced on Wednesday.

Some Democrats Holding Out for Unemployment Benefits

Dec. 11, 2013

Senior House Democrats are warning that they could withhold pivotal votes Thursday on the emerging budget agreement if Republican leaders donít agree to put a three-month extension of unemployment insurance into the package.

Top Consultants Join Primary Campaign Against Democratic Incumbent (Updated)

Nov. 14, 2013

Updated 10:10 p.m. | Former Marine Seth Moultonís campaign announced Thursday that two top Democratic consulting firms have joined his effort to unseat six-term Rep. John F. Tierney, D-Mass.

Mini-Golf Returning to National Building Museum, With Barbecue

May 1, 2013

The National Building Museum is bringing back one of its most popular exhibits, air-conditioned mini-golf courses, from Memorial Day, May 27, to Labor Day, Sept. 2. And itís bringing along some smoked meat and beer.

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