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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:

Marco Rubio Reprises Obamacare Line of Attack

Nov. 24, 2015

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican vying for position in the crowded GOP presidential field, is reiterating his opposition to an insurance-company friendly part of the Affordable Care Act and hoping congressional leaders follow along.

Republicans to Pentagon: Consult Lawyers Before Following Obama on Gitmo

Nov. 23, 2015

A group of House Republicans wants uniformed military leaders to consult with attorneys before carrying out executive orders from President Barack Obama related to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Heroin Epidemic Prompts Calls for More Congressional Spending

Nov. 23, 2015

As appropriators work to craft an omnibus spending package to fund the federal government, one of them is making a pitch for additional funding to combat heroin.

NRCC Posts Strong October Fundraising After Boehner Steps Down

Nov. 20, 2015

Despite initial concerns that former Speaker John A. Boehner’s departure would affect fundraising, the National Republican Congressional Committee raised $5.1 million in the first month after he announced his retirement.

Domestic Surveillance Re-Emerges in Senate, on the Trail

Nov. 20, 2015

A debate over domestic surveillance that appeared resolved months ago is getting new life in the Senate — and on the 2016 presidential trail.

Paul Holding Up Spending Bill Over Refugee Welfare

Nov. 19, 2015

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he won’t allow a transportation and housing spending bill through quickly without a vote about Syrian refugees, likely halting final passage until after Thanksgiving.

Congress Scrambles for Response to Refugees, Paris Attacks

Nov. 18, 2015

Top Republican leaders in Congress called for a “pause” in allowing Syrian refugees to enter the United States, as lawmakers in both chambers scrambled for a response to the Paris terrorist attacks.

Senators Focused on Visa Waiver Vulnerabilities

Nov. 18, 2015

While Syrian refugee resettlement has dominated the headlines in Congress this week, the more pressing national security debate in the Senate is about the way tourists and other travelers enter the United States.

Steve King Helps Ted Cruz Make Pitch to House Conservatives

Nov. 18, 2015

Two days after endorsing Ted Cruz for president, Iowa Rep. Steve King stepped into the role of active surrogate Wednesday morning in a meeting with conservative House members.

McConnell Joins Call for Syrian Refugees Admission 'Pause'

Nov. 17, 2015

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has joined the calls for a “pause” in Syrian refugees admissions, echoing Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

Paris Terror Attacks Give Graham an Opening in 2016 Race

Nov. 17, 2015

Sen. Lindsey Graham has tried in vain to make the GOP presidential race a fight over who has the best plan to crush the Islamic State. But as coordinated terror attacks on Paris dominate headlines, will primary voters finally listen to the South Carolina Republican?

Rubio Criticizes Cruz Over Surveillance After Paris Attacks

Nov. 16, 2015

Sen. Marco Rubio on Monday connected the threat from the Islamic State terror group to recent action by Congress that he said weakened the U.S. intelligence community’s surveillance powers — and one of his leading presidential opponent’s votes on it.

Senate Bides Time as Highway Bill Negotiations Continue

Nov. 16, 2015

It might feel like Groundhog Day with another deadline arriving to fund highway programs, but negotiators hope this one will be the last.

Paul Seeks U.S. Visa Moratorium After Paris Attacks

Nov. 16, 2015

Sen. Rand Paul wants a moratorium imposed on the issuance of visas to enter the United States from dozens of countries.

Opera Tenor Channels Young John Lewis in 'Appomattox'

Nov. 14, 2015

There’s really no other place but the Kennedy Center to launch the premiere of an overhauled version of “Appomattox,” the Philip Glass opera about the end of the Civil War set at the eponymous courthouse.

Does Obamacare Repeal Have a Senate Path Without the Mandates?

Nov. 12, 2015

The search is on for 51 Senate votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, raising questions about whether the House’s attempt to use the budget reconciliation process to do so will succeed.

Senate Seeks Bipartisanship in Rules Overhaul

Nov. 11, 2015

Sen. Charles E. Schumer is upbeat that the Senate’s rules will be tweaked by the time he’s expected to become Democratic leader in 2017 — regardless of which leadership job that becomes.

Reid Whacks Grassley Over Clinton Emails, Nominees

Nov. 9, 2015

Minority Leader Harry Reid opened the Senate’s week by blasting Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley for a blockade on ambassadors over former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails.

Ties to Coats Bind Top Leadership Staffers in Congress

Nov. 9, 2015

Sen. Dan Coats wishes he had been able to do more with the all-star staff he assembled more than two decades ago, given the sphere of influence two of them now occupy in the top echelons of Congress.

Enzi, Sanders Mourn Passing of Budget Panel's Top Clerk

Nov. 9, 2015

The Senate Budget Committee is mourning the untimely death of one of its staffers, Adam Kamp.

It's Veterans Week in the Senate

Nov. 8, 2015

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has an aggressive plan for what could be a two-day workweek ahead of the Veterans Day holiday.

First Speeches Steeped in Patriotic Red, White and Blue

Nov. 6, 2015

Patriotic themes were a common thread among the first Senate floor speeches of the 12 Republican freshmen, the last of which was delivered this week.

Republicans Already Making Gitmo an Issue for 2016

Nov. 6, 2015

The Republican National Committee plans an online advertising campaign in seven key states targeting a policy change by the Obama administration about the future of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.

McCain to Democrats: Do You 'Give a Damn' About Servicemembers?

Nov. 5, 2015

The Republican defense policy leader in the Senate wondered aloud Thursday if Democrats “don’t give a damn” about military personnel.

Republicans Warn White House on Gitmo Closure

Nov. 5, 2015

Opponents of moving Guantánamo detainees to the U.S. mainland are firing a new round of warning shots ahead of an Obama administration plan regarding closing the facility.

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