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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:

Leahy: 'Kind of Petty' Not to Fund Emeritus Office in 'Cromnibus'

Dec. 10, 2014

Not since the electoral defeat of Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens departed has the Senate had a president pro tempore emeritus.

Elizabeth Warren Channels Ted Cruz on 'Cromnibus'

Dec. 10, 2014

One of the Senate’s leading liberals is borrowing a page from the playbook of Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

Feinstein Explains Why CIA Was Not Interviewed for Torture Report

Dec. 9, 2014

Senate Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein faced criticism Tuesday from CIA Director John O. Brennan for not interviewing CIA officers before the release of the committee's CIA torture report, which Brennan said "would have provided members with valuable context."

Feinstein pushed back on this assertion during an hour-long floor speech, saying she was "confident" in the accuracy of the committee report while citing a 2009 Justice Department review of the interrogation techniques used during the George W. Bush administration, which Feinstein said deterred CIA employees from speaking with the committee.

Reid Outlines Remaining Senate Schedule, Again Warns of Weekend Work

Dec. 9, 2014

As final preparations seemed to be underway to pass the “cromnibus” funding most of the government for the rest of the fiscal year — and avoiding a shutdown — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made one more warning about the session extending past Thursday.

“The federal government’s going to run out of money in two days. There’s no reason the government should shut down, and we’re ready to pass a yearlong spending bill to take care of this,” the Nevada Democrat said. “There’s still factions within the Republican party who want extreme measures. You’ve all heard them, just like I have.”

“For the extremists within the Republican Party … there’s always a reason to take a poke at the president. If it’s not one thing, it’s some other thing. The American people certainly shouldn’t be facing another government shutdown, but I guess that’s what we’re facing,” Reid said, noting that almost 100 riders had been at play in the process of crafting the catch-all spending bill.

Reid said he would back a very short-term continuing resolution, should it become necessary to get through procedural maneuvering and finish final details.

Reid Outlines Endgame, Again Warns of Weekend Work (Video)

Dec. 9, 2014

As final preparations seemed to be underway to pass the “cromnibus” funding most of the government for the rest of the fiscal year — and avoid a shutdown — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made one more warning about the session extending past Thursday.

Reid on Senate CIA Report: Torture 'Got Us Nothing'

Dec. 9, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid discussed the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on torture used by the CIA on the floor Tuesday, saying torture had no benefits and likening the report to the release of the Pentagon Papers and reports on Abu Ghraib and the Iran-Contra affair.

"It got us nothing but a bad name," Reid said. "What took place, the torture program, was not in keeping with our country.”

Feinstein on Senate CIA Torture Report: 'Never Again'

Dec. 9, 2014

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein unveiled the executive summary of her committee's much-anticipated report on acts of torture used by the CIA Tuesday.

"This document examines the CIA's secret overseas detention of at least 119 individuals and the use of coercive interrogation techniques — in some cases amounting to torture," the California Democrat said in a statement announcing the release.

Feinstein said on the Senate floor there might never be a good time to release the report, but it is important to do so. The release of the report, Feinstein said, must change how the CIA works and prevent any future use of torture.

The release of the report, Feinstein said, must change how the CIA works and prevent any future use of torture.

"Never again," she said.

Feinstein Unveils CIA Torture Report (Updated) (Video)

Dec. 9, 2014

Updated 12:28 p.m. | Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein unveiled the executive summary of her committee’s much-anticipated report on acts of torture used by the CIA Tuesday.

McConnell Pushes Campaign Finance Changes

Dec. 8, 2014

An effort to ease limits on spending by party committees was among the late lingering issues as negotiations continued on legislation to keep the government funded past Thursday.

McConnell to Nominate Julie Adams as Secretary of the Senate

Dec. 8, 2014

Updated 6:08 p.m. | Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that longtime aide Julie Adams would become secretary of the Senate when he becomes majority leader next year.

McConnell Plots a Functional, Bipartisan Senate

Dec. 8, 2014

Sen. Mitch McConnell wants to hit the ground running in January — and he thinks Democrats are ready to join him in crafting a more open, functional Senate.

Immigration Not High on McConnell Agenda

Dec. 8, 2014

The incoming Senate majority leader isn’t eager to tackle immigration after President Barack Obama’s recent executive action.

McConnell: New GOP Senators Not in 'Make a Point' Wing of Party

Dec. 6, 2014

In an exclusive interview with CQ Roll Call on Dec. 5, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had high praise for the incoming class of majority-makers.

"I always think there is sort of two kinds of people in politics: those that want to make a point and those that want to make a difference," McConnell said. "And I think we've just added 12 new members to the 'make a difference' caucus. And I think we, you know, have some occasional differences over tactics, but I think we are gonna have a broad support within our conference for right-of-center progress."

McConnell Manages Expectations on Obamacare Repeal

Dec. 6, 2014

In an exclusive interview with CQ Roll Call on Dec. 5, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said while Republicans would work to roll back President Barack Obama’s health care law, opponents of the law should be realistic about a full repeal.

"Number one: We certainly will have a vote on proceeding to a bill to repeal Obamacare. … It is a statement to the obvious, however, that Obama — of Obamacare — is the president of the United States," he said of the job with the veto power.

McConnell Plans to Keep Committee Seats in New Congress

Dec. 6, 2014

In an exclusive interview with CQ Roll Call on Dec. 5, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he intended to keep his seat on the Appropriations Committee in the 114th Congress.

“I have not been active in committee work since I became leader. But I think it is to the advantage of my state to have the opportunity to come to meetings occasionally and to vote in person, rather than just by proxy,” McConnell said.

Kerry Warns Feinstein of CIA Torture Report's Possible Impact on Hostages

Dec. 5, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry warned Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein Friday about the possible impact of her committee’s imminent CIA torture report on American hostages and the war on ISIS.

Deal Reached, CIA Torture Report to Be Released Next Week

Dec. 4, 2014

A long-awaited summary of a Senate investigation into torture is coming next week.

Senate Democrats Talk Life in Minority, Plot Comeback

Dec. 4, 2014

Senate Democrats held a meeting Wednesday that they hoped would end intraparty finger-pointing after tough election losses, and discussed their new minority role in next Congress.

Paul Gambit Poised to Force Vote on ISIS (Video)

Dec. 4, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul scored a victory Thursday in forcing an end-of-session debate on authorizing force against Islamic State militants.

Amid CIA Torture Dispute, McDonough Meets Again With Feinstein

Dec. 3, 2014

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

In Final Act, Coburn Objects to Bundling Lands, Defense Bills

Dec. 3, 2014

You could call it Sen. Tom Coburn’s last stand.

Taxes, Defense, Appropriations Remain Big 3 Issues Before Christmas (Video)

Dec. 2, 2014

In the mad rush to complete work before Christmas, there are three big-ticket items on which Democrats and Republicans seem to agree.

McConnell: Taxes, Defense, Appropriations Remain Big 3 Issues Before Christmas

Dec. 2, 2014

In the mad rush to complete work before Christmas, there are three big-ticket items on which Democrats and Republicans seem to agree.

"Obviously the Senate is waiting on the House with respect to the tax extender package, the way forward on funding the government and the National Defense Authorization Act," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday. "Once those measures are received, we'll decide how to go forward."

"I think everybody agrees, on a bipartisan basis, those are three things we simply must do here at the end of the session," the Kentucky Republican continued. "Fund the government, make sure we don't have any retroactive tax increases, and follow the tradition of many years, which is to pass a National Defense Authorization Act. I'm confident the Senate will do that before we depart for the holidays."

Sticking Around Could Make Portman Senate's GOP MVP

Dec. 2, 2014

Free from the albatross of a presidential campaign, Sen. Rob Portman is set to play a starring role in helping set the Senate Republican agenda on taxes, spending, trade and more next year.

Sources: Senate, House Republicans Set Joint Retreat in Pennsylvania

Dec. 2, 2014

House and Senate Republicans expect to hold a joint retreat early in the next Congress in Hershey, Pennsylvania, sources in both chambers said Tuesday.

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