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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:

Kelly Ayotte Backs Draft Registration for Women

Feb. 9, 2016

Having heard from top military officials, Sen. Kelly Ayotte is backing the idea of requiring women to register for the draft.

Budget Cover Draws Attention to Denali

Feb. 9, 2016

The fine print of the president’s budget was still under wraps as print copies were distributed to Senate staff on Tuesday, but even the cover image was designed to tell a story.

GOP Senator Wants to Compel Reports on Iran-North Korea Ties

Feb. 9, 2016

A Republican senator wants to compel the Obama administration to tell Congress what it knows about ties between North Korea and Iran.

The First Congress, and the First Earmark?

Feb. 9, 2016

Was Washington, D.C., the first great earmark?

Pelosi Defends Clinton, Does Not Yet Endorse

Feb. 4, 2016

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday defended Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton from attacks on her record from Republicans, but stopped short of an endorsement.

Flint Aid Deal Slows Down Energy Bill

Feb. 4, 2016

Updated 12:05 p.m. | Senate Democrats blocked a broad bipartisan energy bill from advancing, while senators discuss the extent of federal assistance needed for Flint, Mich.

Freedom Caucus Seeks Leverage in Budget Talks

Feb. 4, 2016

Are House Republicans in danger of not being able to pass a budget? Not quite yet.

Tim Scott Hits South Carolina Airwaves for Marco Rubio

Feb. 4, 2016

Just days after endorsing Sen. Marco Rubio for president, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina is hitting the airwaves back home for his GOP colleague from Florida.

Rubio's Senate Backers Seek to Sway More Colleagues

Feb. 3, 2016

Florida Republican Marco Rubio’s strong third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses could accelerate his bid to secure Senate endorsements for his presidential campaign, supporters said Tuesday.

Reid: 'Did You See Diversity in Iowa?'

Feb. 2, 2016

A day after the Iowa caucuses and a week from the New Hampshire primary, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is back blasting the lack of diversity in the states that come before his home of Nevada in the presidential nominating process.

Rubio Wants First Constitutional Convention in 229 Years

Feb. 1, 2016

Just before New Year’s, GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio added an element to his stump speech sure to appeal to conservative voters: his support for a constitutional convention aimed at limiting the powers of the federal government.

Clinton Adviser: Schumer Was 'So Happy' She Left the Senate

Jan. 29, 2016

A longtime Hillary Clinton adviser seemed to think Sen. Charles E. Schumer was happy to see the current Democratic presidential candidate leave the world’s greatest deliberative body.

Michigan Democrats Want GOP Governor to Lobby for Flint Aid

Jan. 28, 2016

Michigan’s Democratic senators, who are seeking $600 million in federal dollars to replace Flint’s toxic water pipes and support families affected by lead exposure, are hoping the state’s GOP governor will lobby his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill to help foot the bill.

Democrats Seek $400 Million for Flint Repairs

Jan. 27, 2016

Senate Democrats are seeking as much as $400 million in emergency federal money to fix or replace the corroded pipes polluting the water in Flint, Mich., part of a proposed amendment to the bipartisan energy bill being considered in the Senate.

Democrats Boost Bill to Overturn Gun Liability Ban

Jan. 27, 2016

A renewed congressional bid to overturn the law shielding firearm dealers and manufacturers from liability is giving Democratic hopeful Bernard Sanders a chance to reverse himself on a politically troublesome vote.

Reid Pulls for Trump, Then Thinks Better of It

Jan. 27, 2016

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid insists he wasn’t serious when he told reporters he was cheering on Donald Trump in the Republican presidential contest.

Sanders Is Latest Obstacle to Obama Nominee

Jan. 26, 2016

President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration is facing friendly fire, with Democratic presidential candidate Bernard Sanders and Massachusetts Democrat Edward J. Markey both placing a hold on the nomination.

Rand Paul Applauds Obama's Solitary Confinement Changes

Jan. 26, 2016

President Barack Obama has opted to make some changes to the federal criminal justice system on his own, rather than waiting for Congress to pass an overhaul measure during an election year. And his new solitary confinement rules have already won the praise of one GOP presidential candidate.

House Cancels Votes for Week as D.C. Digs Out From Blizzard

Jan. 24, 2016

UPDATED 6:30 p.m. | The weekend’s historic blizzard has forced a delay in the House’s attempt to overcome President Barack Obama’s veto of a rollback of his signature health care law.

Graham on Cruz v. Trump: Like Being 'Shot or Poisoned'

Jan. 21, 2016

As Sen. Lindsey Graham sees it, making a binary choice between real estate mogul Donald Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for the Republican presidential nominee is like picking between being “shot or poisoned.”

Campaign Venom Blocks Syrian Refugee Debate

Jan. 21, 2016

The rancorous politics of the presidential campaign spilled onto the Senate floor Wednesday and blocked debate on a bill that would effectively keep refugees from Iraq and Syria from entering the United States.

McConnell Counts Down Days Until Obama Leaves

Jan. 20, 2016

Perhaps no one has a more expansive view of how the First Amendment protects campaign speech and donations than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

35 Years Later, Former Hostages, Lawmakers Cheer Restitution

Jan. 20, 2016

In 1979, Johnny Isakson was just one of many Americans tuning in to Ted Koppel’s late night reports on the status of Americans taken hostage in Iran — what became the 444 day saga.

Before Republicans Move Forward, They Retreat

Jan. 19, 2016

Congressional Republicans emerged from a retreat in Baltimore last week committed to an agenda that navigates between the fierce rhetoric of the presidential campaign and the undeniable reality that Democrats can still block key legislation.

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