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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:

Behind a Resolution, a Story About a Stroke

May 8, 2015

Members of Congress introduce resolutions all the time expressing support for one cause or another that get little or no attention, but the truth is that they all have back stories.

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Iran Bill; Boehner Looks to House Action (Updated)

May 7, 2015

Updated 3:52 p.m. | After a few false starts, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to give Congress a say in a final international agreement with Iran on nuclear development.

Paul's Anti-NSA Push Is at Odds With McConnell's Agenda (Updated) (Video)

May 7, 2015

Updated 12:34 p.m. | Sen. Rand Paul is calling the debate on an issue that puts him at odds with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “a defining moment for our country.”

Senator: GOP Will Adhere to Budget Spending Limits

May 5, 2015

Republican senators touted the fiscal 2016 budget resolution ahead of a vote Tuesday, which the Senate later adopted 51-48, marking the first time Congress adopted a budget resolution since 2009.

At a weekly news conference ahead of the vote, Sen. Roger Wicker said Republicans would honor the budgetary constraints going forward, which will be tested as the Senate begins the process of drafting spending bills in the coming weeks.

“We will abide by the caps that we enact this afternoon, and that is a significant achievement that we have not had before,” Wicker said. “And then, it gives us absolutely a path to a reconciliation bill to change the affordable health care act into something that works with market principles and provides better choices and better health care for the American people.”

Graham, Leahy Host Elton John to Promote Fight Against HIV/AIDS

May 5, 2015

Sens. Lindsey Graham and Patrick J. Leahy hosted Sir Elton John at the Capitol Tuesday evening as part of a push to ensure funding for the bipartisan effort to combat AIDS.

Reid, Durbin Slam GOP Budget

May 5, 2015

Ahead of a vote on a fiscal 2016 budget resolution Tuesday, Democratic leaders hammered the spending blueprint they said creates long-term consequences and creates unworkable caps for the appropriations process.

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin echoed a challenge issued by Sen. Charles E. Schumer for the Republicans to advance spending bills at the agreed-upon levels.

“Let’s see if the 23, 24 Republican senators up for re-election this time really want to run on this platform,” said Durbin, adding that the GOP budget identified winners and losers, the real winners being those getting estate tax relief. “4,000 Americans who have an estate worth at least $10 million are the winners. They’re each going to win about $3 million in tax relief from the Republican budget.”

George Mitchell Tells His Favorite Tales in New Memoir

May 5, 2015

Not long after George J. Mitchell gave up a federal judgeship in Maine for an appointment to the Senate, he found himself sleeping on a cot.

Wicker Pledges GOP Will Adhere to Strict Spending Limits (Video)

May 5, 2015

As the Senate was preparing to finalize the fiscal 2016 budget resolution, both sides seem to want the spending blueprint to be an election issue next year.

Reid Threatens to Short-Circuit Trade Bill (Video)

May 5, 2015

Does Minority Leader Harry Reid have the votes to throw a monkey wrench into President Barack Obama’s trade agenda?

Reid Urges McConnell to File Cloture on Iran Bill

May 4, 2015

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid urged Republicans not to derail an Iran nuclear agreement review bill by pushing contentious amendments during his opening remarks Monday, citing the bipartisan nature of the legislation and the ongoing work of Sens. Bob Corker and Benjamin L. Cardin.

“A number of Senate Republicans are prioritizing presidential politics over national security,” Reid said. "Others are simply trying to undermine President Obama. … The junior senator from Arkansas and other Republicans want to see any potential agreement with Iran crash and burn before we know what’s in the final agreement. … The opponents of the Corker-Cardin legislation aren’t concerned with finding a middle ground. That is why the majority leader should file cloture now to preserve this legislation.”

Reid’s remarks follow a speech last week by Sen. Tom Cotton insisting on a simple majority threshold for votes on amendments to the Iran bill, which Corker said changed the context of the Iran nuclear debate.

Congress Is for Hackers

May 4, 2015

In fewer than two days last week, more than 100 hackers — coders, business analysts, former congressional staffers and grass-roots advocacy specialists — developed 11 projects aimed at helping Congress function more effectively and transparently.

Senate Pushes Ahead With Iran Debate (Video)

May 4, 2015

The debate over the role of Congress in international negotiations with Iran about nuclear development is entering another week.

Senate Patent Bill Gets White House Plaudits

May 1, 2015

President Barack Obama wants to see a bipartisan patent overhaul reach his desk before the end of 2015, and the White House is responding favorably to the new Senate bill introduced this week.

'Poison Pill' Amendments Threaten Iran Bill

April 30, 2015

Sen. Tom Cotton is insisting on simple majority votes on contentious amendments to legislation to provide congressional review of any final nuclear deal with Iran, apparently stymieing the possibility of moving forward, at least for now.

The Arkansas Republican sought to line up a pair of amendments that supportive Democratic senators have said could cause them to remove support for the bill. One of those, sponsored by Cotton, would require Iran to allow inspectors full access to suspicious sites. The other, led by Florida Republican Marco Rubio, would require Tehran to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

"I think some of the tactics that are now being deployed are going to make it much more difficult for us to be able to proceed in an orderly way," Foreign Relations ranking member Benjamin L. Cardin said.

Corker Predicts No More Amendments to Iran Bill (Updated) (Video)

April 30, 2015

Updated 2:58 p.m. | Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker predicted there was no hope for additional amendments to his bill to provide for review of the Iran agreement — and that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s next step would be to limit debate.

Senators Renew Bipartisan Assault on Patent Trolls

April 29, 2015

Updated 3:49 p.m. | Patent trolls beware: This time it’s different.

Paul Seeks to Block FCC on Net Neutrality

April 29, 2015

Sen. Rand Paul has launched an effort that could get a bill to the White House to upend net-neutrality efforts.

Budget Resolution Clears Corker Hurdle

April 29, 2015

Sen. Bob Corker has signed off on the conference report for the fiscal 2016 budget resolution, clearing an obstacle for House and Senate Republicans to move forward.

Senate Democrats Warn GOP on Appropriations (Video)

April 28, 2015

Even before GOP lawmakers filed a budget resolution conference report, Senate Democratic Conference Chairman Charles E. Schumer put down a marker.

Democrats Fire Warning Shots Over GOP Budget

April 28, 2015

Even before GOP lawmakers had filed a budget resolution conference report, Senate Democratic Conference Chairman Charles E. Schumer was firing a warning shot about the next step in the process of funding the federal government.

“Republicans should be warned right here, right now, Democrats are not going to help you pass appropriations bills that lock-in senseless, automatically triggered cuts that hurt the middle class,” the New York Democrat said. “Instead, we’ll be eager to work with our Republican colleagues to prevent those cuts from taking effect and restoring both defense spending and vital middle class funding in an even way, one dollar for defense, one dollar for the middle class.”

Schumer made the statement just after rattling off a list of provisions Democrats oppose in the Republican budget blueprint, after the ink was supposed to have been dry, but before it actually was.

Durbin: 'Tax and Spend' for Medical Research

April 28, 2015

Sen. Richard J. Durbin returned to his alma mater Monday evening for a lecture that lived up to its name.

New Front Opens in 'Fast-Track' Trade Fight

April 28, 2015

There’s no shortage of liberal opposition to President Barack Obama on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but a more serious threat to the administration’s pro-trade alliance with Republicans might come from those who want to tackle the perpetually thorny issue of currency manipulation.

Iran Bill Sponsors Face Down Amendments

April 28, 2015

As senators look to start processing amendments to the bipartisan bill ensuring congressional review of an Iran nuclear deal, the bill’s level of support has reached a magic number of sorts.

Mitch McConnell Records Kentucky Derby Radio Introduction

April 27, 2015

Many Kentucky radio listeners will be hearing a familiar voice at the start of coverage of the Run for the Roses.

Over an instrumental version of "My Old Kentucky Home," Louisville-based 840 WHAS is featuring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introducing the news radio station’s coverage of this year’s 141st running of the Kentucky Derby.

“This is Sen. Mitch McConnell. Welcome to one of our commonwealth’s most treasured traditions, filled with colorful pageantry, remarkable speed and stunning surprises. It’s the first jewel in horse racing’s Triple Crown,” McConnell says in the recorded promo. “The Kentucky Derby on NewsRadio 840, WHAS.”

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