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Niels Lesniewski


Niels Lesniewski covers the Senate for Roll Call. He joined what is now CQ Roll Call in September 2007, hired by Roll Call for the GalleryWatch legislative tracking service that was integrated into CQ in 2009. He is known for his expertise on the peculiarities of Senate procedure.

Niels began covering the Senate for CQ in January 2010, taking the title of CQ SenateWatch editor in the summer of 2011. He has contributed to coverage of all the biggest policy stories on Capitol Hill in recent years, including the response to the 2008 financial collapse, the health care overhaul and several budget standoffs.

A Connecticut native, Niels graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a dual degree in theatre and government. Before joining CQ Roll Call, he worked for theater productions in D.C. and New England. While in college, he interned for ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." Outside of work, Niels is an avid sports fan. He started attending Nationals games back when the team was among the worst in the National League and still playing at RFK Stadium.

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Stories by Niels Lesniewski:

Justice Department Declines to Open Probe of CIA 'Spying' on Senate (Updated)

July 10, 2014

Updated 4:37 p.m. | The Justice Department is declining to open a formal investigation into the sparring between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA.

Cornyn, Durbin Highlight Divide on Immigration Supplemental

July 10, 2014

If you want to see the Senate’s divide on a supplemental spending package to address the flood of unaccompanied migrant children crossing the border, look no further than the chamber’s two whips.

CBO Score Continues to Vex Veterans Bill Talks

July 9, 2014

The sky-high CBO score for a veterans’ health care overhaul continues to stall progress weeks after separate bills blitzed through the House and Senate.

Sportmen's Bill Faces Gun Amendment Gauntlet (Updated)

July 9, 2014

Updated 1:01 p.m. | The bipartisan sportsmen’s bill appeared on the verge of collapse Wednesday.

Gun Politics Overtake Hunting Bill

July 9, 2014

Gun politics appear all-but-certain to destroy any chance of advancing a bipartisan hunting, fishing and conservation package — and with it, a chance for Sen. Kay Hagan and other endangered Democrats to tout their bipartisan legislative bona fides ahead of the November elections.

Democrats' Hobby Lobby Response Would Curtail Religious Freedom Law (Video)

July 8, 2014

If Sen. Patty Murray and fellow Democrats get their way, employers wouldn’t be able to use a 1990s-era law to avoid Obamacare health coverage mandates for contraception.

Bipartisan Sportsmen's Bill Sparks Gun Control Duel

July 8, 2014

A bipartisan bundle of hunting and fishing legislation could get shot down by a partisan battle over gun control.

McCain: Cut Aid to Countries Fueling Immigration Crisis

July 7, 2014

A GOP architect of the Senate’s immigration plan is calling for at least threatening to cut aid to Central American countries that don’t take steps to stop the flow of unaccompanied migrant children to the United States.

Illinois Mourns Former Sen. Alan Dixon (Updated)

July 6, 2014

Updated 7:45 p.m. | Former Illinois Sen. Alan J. Dixon died Sunday at his home in Fairview Heights, his family said.

Begich Slams McCaskill in Feud Over Alaska Native Corporations

July 2, 2014

It isn’t the first time an Alaska senator has chastised a colleague for a lack of understanding about his non-contiguous state.

Ted Cruz Doesn't Disavow SCF Call to Defund NRSC

July 1, 2014

A conservative outside group whose efforts Sen. Ted Cruz backed has called for defunding the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Ahead of Obama Bridge Visit, DOT Warns States Highway Trust Fund Checks Will Slow

July 1, 2014

With President Barack Obama set to speak later in the day in front of the Key Bridge, his Transportation secretary is warning states checks will slow if Congress doesn’t patch the hole in the Highway Trust Fund soon.

Senate Democrats Eye End Run Around Hobby Lobby Case (Updated)

June 30, 2014

Updated 2:19 p.m. | Senate Democrats plan to “fight” to ensure women retain access through their insurance to contraceptives, after the Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.

Wyden: 'Why Hasn't the Bulk Collection of Americans' Phone Records Been Ended?'

June 30, 2014

Sen. Ron Wyden is raising additional concerns about "backdoor" queries of communications by American citizens by federal intelligence and law enforcement authorities.

During an open hearing on June 5, the Oregon Democrat pressed the Obama administration about the collection of records.

"Why hasn't the bulk collection of Americans' phone records been ended?" Wyden said. "The fact that this dragnet surveillance is taking place right now is unacceptable to me."

Wyden Continues to Blast Obama Administration on 'Backdoor' Surveillance (Video)

June 30, 2014

Sen. Ron Wyden is raising additional concerns about “backdoor” queries of communications by American citizens by federal intelligence and law enforcement authorities.

Harry Reid Would Rather Watch Tennis Than the NFL

June 27, 2014

Maybe Dan Synder isn’t worried about Harry Reid because professional football is not the Nevada Democrat’s favorite sport.

McConnell Announces Passing of Former Majority Leader Howard Baker

June 26, 2014

The Senate is mourning the loss of one of the chamber's great leaders.

Former Majority Leader Howard Baker Jr., R-Tenn., has died. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made the announcement on the floor of the Senate.

"It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of one of the Senate's most towering figures: Senator Howard Baker. The Senate sends its sincere condolences to the family of Senator Baker," the Kentucky Republican said.

Senate Mourns Passing of Former Majority Leader Howard Baker (Video)

June 26, 2014

The Senate is mourning the loss of one of the chamber’s great leaders.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Obama's Recess Appointments

June 26, 2014

A unanimous Supreme Court struck down President Barack Obama’s disputed recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, saying that the Senate was not technically in recess because it was holding pro forma sessions.

Bipartisan Patch Job for Highway Bill Coming Together

June 26, 2014

A big fight over how to best avert a crisis in highway construction projects won’t happen before the July Fourth recess, and there might be a deal to avoid the fight altogether.

GOP Won't Shut Down Government to Block 'War on Coal,' Thune Predicts

June 26, 2014

A top Senate Republican predicted the GOP’s fight against the EPA’s “war on coal” won’t lead to a government shutdown.

Camp: Grassley Targeted By Lois Lerner at IRS

June 25, 2014

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp said Wednesday that a former Senate Finance chairman was among those targeted for extra scrutiny by the IRS.

Schumer, McCain Hold Court at Breakfast

June 25, 2014

Sen. Charles E. Schumer and John McCain met with reporters for nearly an hour Wednesday morning. Together. On the record.

Boxer Cheers Cochran Primary Win, Sees Lesson for Transportation Bill

June 25, 2014

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., cheered the GOP primary win of Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi on Wednesday and said she hoped his winning message of bringing back money to Mississippi would be a lesson to to other senators.

Reid: Not Funding Highway Bill Would Be 'A Real Shame'

June 24, 2014

When the Senate returns from the July Fourth recess, lawmakers will have just about two weeks to fix a shortfall in funds for federally-backed highway projects, with both parties again in a dispute over taxes.

Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., made a presentation during Tuesday's caucus lunch, and after Majority Leader Harry Reid said not funding surface transportation would be "a real shame" at his weekly news conference.

Wyden said Tuesday the trust fund will go out of balance on July 18.

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