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Niels Lesniewski

Bio:

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:

Internet Sales Tax Bill Dealt a Blow; Wyden Cheers

July 23, 2014

Majority Leader Harry Reid is quietly stepping back from his intention to bundle an Internet tax moratorium with a more contentious proposal to allow states to collect online sales taxes, at least for now.

Sessions: 'Colossal Error' to Pass Immigration Spending Without Blocking 'Administrative Amnesty'

July 23, 2014

Sen. Jeff Sessions says it would be “institutional surrender” for the House to advance an immigration spending bill without preventing President Barack Obama from expanding “administrative amnesty” for millions of additional unauthorized immigrants.

Cruz Threatens to Delay State Department Nominees Over FAA's Israel Flight Ban

July 23, 2014

Sen. Ted Cruz announced late Wednesday that he would hold up State Department nominees over a moratorium on U.S. flight traffic to Tel Aviv.

Sanders Says Money Still Stalling VA Conference

July 23, 2014

A congressional fix for the veterans health care crisis remains stalled over the pricetag.

Mikulski Set to Unveil Emergency Spending for Immigration Crisis (Video)

July 22, 2014

Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski plans to introduce a $3.57 billion emergency supplemental spending package on Wednesday.

In Reversal, Reid Optimistic on VA Bill

July 22, 2014

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid predicted Congress would fail to pass a bill to fix the VA health care system, but the Nevada Democrat reversed course Tuesday, saying he "hoped" a bill would be completed before the August recess.

"I think the last 24 hours has been quite good," Reid said, referring to conversations with Veterans' Affairs Chairman Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., a member of the conference committee charged with drafting legislation to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs' health care system.

GOP Leader: Congress on Track to do 'Absolutely Nothing' on Border Crisis

July 22, 2014

With the White House's emergency funding request for the Southern border in jeopardy, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn on Tuesday added to the increased speculation that Congress would fail to act on the proposal before the August recess.

"Unfortunately it looks like we're on a track to do absolutely nothing, which to me is the definition of political malpractice," the Texas Republican said while touting a measure he drafted with Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, changing a 2008 trafficking law to expedite immigration hearings for children.

Senate Needs 'Magic' to Complete Pre-Recess Agenda (Video)

July 22, 2014

The Senate might just have too much to do before departing for August recess.

Democrats Tout Walsh Bill to Bring Back Jobs — Without Walsh

July 22, 2014

Politics is overtaking the Senate floor schedule again this week, with a vulnerable Democrat leading the charge on a bill to give tax breaks to employers who return jobs to the United States.

With August Recess Looming, Reid Juggles Border, Highway Funding Measures

July 22, 2014

The Senate might just have too much to do before departing for August recess.

But, it is a chamber where "magic" all-too-often occurs on Thursday evenings, and senators might need it come July 31. There's no shortage of big ticket items on the legislative agenda of Majority Leader Harry Reid, including funding for the crisis involving unaccompanied migrant children, stop-gap highway funding and the ongoing issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Federal Judge Tosses Ron Johnson's Obamacare Lawsuit

July 21, 2014

A federal judge based in Green Bay has tossed a Sen. Ron Johnson’s Obamacare lawsuit targeting the health benefits for members of Congress and their staff.

Nomination Backlog Frustrates Administration, Democrats as August Looms

July 21, 2014

A pileup of nominations — particularly for scores of would-be U.S. ambassadors — has the Obama administration pushing hard for Senate action ahead of the August recess, while senators want to get home to campaign before the midterms.

Reid Hammers Republicans for Delay on Border Crisis Funding

July 21, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blasted Republicans on Monday while suggesting Congress may fail to pass the White House's emergency funding request to address the influx of child migrants at the Southern border.

“We need to get resources to our border patrol agents and others who are caring for these children in central America. We need judges to hear these kids’ cases and decide whether they need protection or need to be sent back home,” Reid said. “The world is watching how this great democracy of ours responds to this crisis.”

Reid Predicts Congress Will Not Pass Bill to Fix VA

July 21, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday predicted Congress would fail to pass a fix for the veterans’ health crisis, blaming the GOP for penny-pinching.

“We had a big show here, not long ago, where we provided $35 billion to help veterans. We’ve spent trillions of dollars in two wars, unpaid-for by the way. That’s what President [George W.] Bush wanted, and that’s what he got. But now, when we’re being asked to spend a few dollars to take care of these people who have come back in need as our veterans … it looks to me like they’re going to come back with nothing."

Reid Predicts Veterans' Health Bill Will Fall, Fears Gridlock on Border Supplemental (Video)

July 21, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday predicted Congress would fail to pass a fix for the veterans’ health crisis — and worried the same could happen with the border supplemental to address the child migrant crisis.

Mark Kirk Says Obama Iran Policy is Path to Nuclear War (Video)

July 18, 2014

Sen. Mark S. Kirk said in a jarring video circulated late Friday that President Barack Obama’s Iran policy is leading to nuclear war.

McCain: United States 'Also Responsible' for Circumstances Leading to MH17 Crash in Ukraine (Audio)

July 18, 2014

Sen. John McCain said Friday that the tragic shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 might never have happened if the United States had armed Ukrainian forces battling against Russian-backed separatists.

Senate Set to Confirm Ambassador to Possible Malaysia Airlines MH17 Crash Investigator (Video) (Updated)

July 17, 2014

Updated 6:59 p.m. | The Senate is set to confirm a new U.S. ambassador to an international body that’s been responsible for investigating airplane crashes such as Malaysia Airlines MH17.

Reid Lambasts Delays in Confirming US Ambassadors

July 17, 2014

An international body that’s been responsible for investigating airplane crashes such as Malaysia Airlines MH17 is among the entities lacking a U.S. ambassador.

That’s as the crash of the Malaysia Airlines flight in Eastern Ukraine was reported to have had Americans on board and may require an independent investigation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has begun regular complaints about delays in confirming the backlog of State Department nominations.

“Right now, there are gaping holes in our nation’s front lines. American embassies all over the world are without their leaders," Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday. “Republicans are abdicating the Senate’s constitutional role to confirm ambassadors.”

McCain: Putin Should Pay if Separatists Shot Down Malaysia Airlines Plane

July 17, 2014

If it's determined that Ukrainian separatists shot down the Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed in Eastern Ukraine Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin should face consequences, Sen. John McCain said.

The Arizona Republican said it's too early to know exactly what happened to the plane that reportedly crashed near the Russian border.

"It's an outrageous and incredible act of terrorism that people [should] be held responsible and not only be people directly responsible, but indirectly," McCain said when asked about reports the plane was shot down. "And if these are ... separatists, which are also Russian, Vladimir Putin should be paying a heavy price. But I am not concluding yet that until we find out all the information."

Putin Should Pay if Malaysia Airlines Jet Was Shot Down, McCain Says (Video)

July 17, 2014

If it’s determined that Ukrainian separatists shot down the Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed in Eastern Ukraine Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin should face consequences, Sen. John McCain said.

Democratic Leaders Plan to Bypass Wyden on Internet Sales Tax Combo Bill (Video)

July 16, 2014

Senate Democratic leaders plan to do an end run around Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden and combine House-passed legislation extending a moratorium on taxing Internet access with a Senate-passed proposal to require online retailers to collect sales tax.

Senate Confirms Federal Judge 17 Years After Nomination

July 16, 2014

Roughly 17 years after first being nominated, Ronnie L. White is finally on his way to becoming a federal judge in Missouri.

The Senate confirmed White, 53-44, to a seat in the Eastern District of Missouri after limiting debate earlier in the day with 54 affirmative votes, short of the 60 that used to be required for cloture before Democrats used the "nuclear option" in 2013 to effectively change the rules.

White's nomination during the Clinton administration eventually fell on a party-line vote in 1999, 45-54. Republicans had the majority in the Senate at that time. Ahead of Wednesday's action, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., called the original vote "a grievous error."

Durbin Wants Defense Spending Bill on the Floor, but Isn't Optimistic

July 16, 2014

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin would not concede that the only way forward for fiscal 2015 appropriations is a continuing resolution, but he wasn’t very optimistic.

Reid Doubts Unemployment Extension Will Come Up in Highway Bill Debate

July 16, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would work as quickly as possible to advance a highway funding patch, but an unemployment extension isn’t likely to get a chance to hitchhike on it.

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