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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:

Ahead of Recess, Highway Bill Standoff Gets Political (Video)

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.

Coburn: 'More Than 1,000 Veterans May Have Died' Thanks to VA Misconduct

June 24, 2014

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., contends that the Department of Veterans Affairs may be responsible for the deaths of more than 1,000 veterans.

Senators Seek More Information About Targeted Killings With Drones (Video)

June 23, 2014

Two Senate Democrats want the public to know more about the rules behind the targeted killing of American citizens using drones.

Reid Parks 'Minibus' Spending Bill in Amendment Dispute

June 19, 2014

Well, so much for that idea.

White House Threatened Veto of Spending Bill Over McConnell Amendment (Updated)

June 19, 2014

Updated 2:44 p.m. | Top senators signaled the White House threatened to veto a Senate spending bill over a possible amendment from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to block EPA power plant regulations.

Democrats Ducking Vote on 'War on Coal' Amendment — for Now

June 18, 2014

The war over the “war on coal” has been postponed after Democrats pushed off a second fiscal 2015 spending bill in the Senate.

Reid, Cantwell Cheer Cancellation of Redskins Trademark

June 18, 2014

Two of the Senate's leading critics of Washington Redskins name and team owner Dan Snyder were quick to take the Senate floor to praise the Patent and Trademark Office's decision to strip the team of its trademarks.

First came Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., a former chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee, who has spearheaded efforts to get the name changed. On the floor, she criticized the Redskins monicker as a slur.

"We're so excited to know that finally people are recognizing that this issue can no longer be a business case for the NFL to use this patent," Cantwell said. "They will not be able to forcefully exclude other people from having derivatives of this logo or the name."

Reid, Cantwell Cheer Cancellation of Redskins Trademark (Video)

June 18, 2014

Two of the Senate’s leading critics of Washington Redskins name and team owner Dan Snyder were quick to take the Senate floor to praise the Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to strip the team of its trademarks.

McConnell Plots Coal Amendment to Energy Spending Bill

June 17, 2014

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning an amendment to an upcoming spending bill that could put the brakes on the EPA’s plans to implement new regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants.

Reid Won't Attend Anymore Redskins Home Games

June 16, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has no interest in attending a Washington Redskins game until the football team changes its name.

Fifty Years Ago, Jim Bunning's Perfect Game at Shea Stadium (Video)

June 13, 2014

It was Father’s Day 50 years ago that former Sen. Jim Bunning made history, pitching a perfect game at Shea Stadium.

McConnell Pays Tribute to Jim Bunning's Perfect Game

June 13, 2014

It was Father's Day 50 years ago that former Sen. Jim Bunning made history, pitching a perfect game at Shea Stadium.

The Kentucky Republican's hall of fame career featured no shortage of milestones, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell couldn't let the anniversary go by without a tribute to his former colleague — a man with whom he at times famously disagreed.

GOP Senators Ask If Bergdahl Swap Broke Spending Law

June 13, 2014

Nine Republican appropriators are questioning whether the Pentagon ran afoul of a law that prevents spending funds without approval from Congress in the move to transfer five Taliban leaders to Qatar.

Wyden Touts Whistleblower Protections in Intelligence Bill

June 12, 2014

Sen. Ron Wyden is chastising a recent policy directive while highlighting new whistleblower protections in the intelligence bill that the Senate quietly passed Wednesday evening.

In a widely-reported April directive, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. prohibited intelligence agency personnel from making unauthorized contact with members of the media. In the view of Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has been a longtime skeptic of surveillance programs, the policy could be implemented in far too many circumstances.

"If you're an employee of an intelligence agency and if you have a family member who likes to post or retweet articles about national security, suddenly having a conversation with that family member about important issues like NSA surveillance or the war in Afghanistan could lead to you getting punished for having unauthorized contact with the media," Wyden said in a Thursday floor speech, saying the policy could include information that isn't classified.

Senators Doubt 'Astronomical' CBO Score for VA Health Bill

June 12, 2014

Some senators are questioning an ‘astronomical’ but preliminary Congressional Budget Office score for the Senate-passed emergency veterans health bill — while promising to find ways to pay for it in conference with the House.

Wyden Touts Whistleblower Protections in Intelligence Bill (Video)

June 12, 2014

Sen. Ron Wyden is chastising a recent policy directive while highlighting new whistleblower protections in the intelligence bill that the Senate quietly passed Wednesday evening.

Veterans Could Get $50 Billion a Year in New Health Care

June 11, 2014

As the Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass legislation designed to fix problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the amount of new spending in the measure began to clarify.

Senate Passes Intelligence Authorization Without Debate

June 11, 2014

Wednesday was a busier day in the Senate than many people know.

Senate Passes Emergency VA Bill at Warp Speed

June 11, 2014

The Senate had a rare burst of productivity Wednesday, passing a bipartisan bill aimed at tackling the VA health care scandal at warp speed.

Appropriators Punt on Labor-HHS Spending Bill

June 11, 2014

The Senate Appropriations Committee won’t consider a typically contentious federal spending bill this week.

Ted Cruz: Eric Cantor Defeat a Sign for GOP

June 11, 2014

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, says Tuesday’s primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor should be a wake-up call for Republicans.

Reid Touts VA Bill, Student Loan Fix at Weekly News Conference

June 10, 2014

The Senate could move ahead at breakneck pace on bipartisan legislation to address the VA scandal — after just as swiftly voting to block a partisan student loan refinancing bill.

A test vote on the student loan measure championed by Democrats and led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is set for Wednesday, and despite the vocal support of Democrats and an outside public relations push, it is going nowhere fast.

Majority Leader Harry Reid said the VA bill could move ahead quickly at his weekly news conference.

"I hope we can bring it to the floor in the next 24 hours, 48 hours at the most," the Nevada Democrat said. "And if people want amendments on the veterans bill, they should be able to have amendments on it."

Senate GOP Leaders Criticize Student Loan Bill, Push VA Measure

June 10, 2014

As the Senate prepares to move forward with legislation addressing the VA scandal, GOP leaders pushed back on the student loan measure championed by Democrats and led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dissed the measure, which would allow student loans to be refinanced at lower current rates with an offsetting millionaire minimum tax. Instead, he said, the Senate should be acting on the bill to address the issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"We have a bipartisan veterans bill negotiated the way we used to do business in the Senate, with members of both parties, ready to go," the Kentucky Republican said. "It was introduced yesterday. So, I hope we'll not get onto a bill going nowhere and immediately turn to the veterans bipartisan bill and see if we can address that in a bipartisan way very quickly. Maybe even finish it this week."

VA Bill Could Pass Senate by Week's End (Video)

June 10, 2014

The Senate could move ahead at breakneck pace on bipartisan legislation to address the scandal rocking the Department of Veterans Affairs — after just as swiftly voting to block a partisan student loan refinancing bill.

Ted Cruz to Push Moratorium on Guantanamo Transfers

June 10, 2014

Sen. Ted Cruz plans an aggressive push to impose a moratorium on transferring detainees out of the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

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