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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:

Ukraine Aid Advances in Senate but Cruz, Barrasso Push for Votes on Amendments

March 24, 2014

A bill to provide aid to Ukraine cleared a procedural vote Monday evening, as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, signaled he would not object to expediting the bill if he gets a vote on an amendment striking the International Monetary Fund provision.

Sparring Resumes Over Wind Tax Breaks

March 21, 2014

Senators are lining up to renew old saws about reviving lapsed tax breaks — for whenever the Senate gets around to addressing them.

Schumer Bullish on Media Shield Bill Passing This Year

March 21, 2014

New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer predicted Friday that the Senate will pass sweeping media shield legislation in 2014.

Reid Orders Probe of CIA Spying, Warns of 'Intelligence Community Run Amok'

March 20, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has asked Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer to investigate how Intelligence Committee staff gained access to a report at the heart of the standoff between the CIA and the Senate.

Holder Acknowledges DOJ Review of CIA Spying Allegations

March 19, 2014

The Justice Department is reviewing allegations made by the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee accusing each other of improper activity.

Ron Johnson Lacks Standing in Obamacare Lawsuit, DOJ Contends

March 19, 2014

Obama administration lawyers want a federal judge in Wisconsin to throw out a lawsuit filed by GOP Sen. Ron Johnson contending that employer contributions for staff health benefits run afoul of the law.

Senators Push Security Clearance Overhaul After Navy Yard Shooting Report

March 18, 2014

There appears to be bipartisan support for doing something to mitigate the risks of another Navy Yard shooting.

John McCain's Favorite Flick: Fargo

March 18, 2014

Sen. John McCain has rather dark taste in movies.

Lawmakers Push Executive Order Banning LGBT Discrimination by Contractors

March 18, 2014

Nearly 200 Democratic lawmakers have written to President Barack Obama seeking an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in employment practices.

Senate Ban on iPads, Kindles Under Fire

March 17, 2014

It may be 2014, but senators are still banned — for now — from using their iPads and Kindles as they see fit on the Senate floor.

McCain Suggests Russians Will Someday Oust Putin

March 14, 2014

Sen. John McCain implied Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will one day have to run away from Moscow.

Amid Spying Debate, Senate Confirms Top CIA Lawyer

March 13, 2014

The Senate granted swift confirmation to a new CIA general counsel Thursday, in effect taking authority from an official now known to have ties to the agency’s past detention and interrogation program.

Reid, Durbin Accuse GOP of Putting Koch Brothers Ahead of Ukrainians

March 13, 2014

Senate Democratic leaders lit into Republicans Thursday over reports of an effort to tie aid to Ukraine to a move to block the IRS from clamping down on the political activities of tax-exempt groups.

GOP Could Force Vote to Negate Obamacare Carve-Out for Unions

March 13, 2014

Senate Republicans have at least one arrow in their quiver to force an uncomfortable Obamacare vote for Democrats seeking re-election in 2014.

Chambliss Declines to Back Feinstein's CIA Charges, May Call for Special Investigator (Video)

March 12, 2014

The top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee refused to endorse Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein’s explosive allegations of CIA spying on the committee, telling the Senate on Wednesday that a special investigator may be needed to get to the truth.

Obama Wants to Avoid Crossfire Between CIA and Senate

March 12, 2014

President Barack Obama wants to stay out of the feud between the Senate Intelligence Committee and his own CIA.

Ukraine Aid Bill Faces Filibuster Threat

March 12, 2014

Senate Democrats expect to face procedural hurdles on a package of assistance to Ukraine that moved out of the Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday afternoon.

Brennan Denies CIA Spied on Senate; Graham Calls Allegations Nixonian (Video)

March 11, 2014

CIA Director John O. Brennan denied that the agency snooped on the Senate Intelligence Committee, even as one leading Republican compared the allegation to something straight out of the Nixon administration.

Feinstein: CIA Spied on Intelligence Committee (Updated) (Video)

March 11, 2014

Updated 5:27 p.m. | The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee torched the CIA in a floor speech Tuesday, charging the agency with spying on her committee’s computers in a possibly illegal search she said has been referred to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution.

Feinstein: CIA Spied on Intelligence Committee

March 11, 2014

The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee torched the Central Intelligence Agency in a floor speech Tuesday morning, charging the agency with spying on her committee’s computers in a possibly illegal search that has been referred to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution.

McConnell Renews Skepticism Ahead of Democrats' Climate Change All-Nighter

March 7, 2014

Days before Senate Democrats plan to keep the lights on all night to discuss the dangers of climate change, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is renewing his skepticism of any man-made role.

McCain: Cruz's Criticism of Bob Dole Crossed a Line

March 7, 2014

Sen. John McCain said Friday he told Sen. Ted Cruz that the Texas Republican’s criticism of former Majority Leader Bob Dole in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference crossed a line.

Cochran Upbeat About Primary Fight, Not Running Scared

March 7, 2014

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran was upbeat this week that he will prevail over his tea-party-backed Republican primary challenger when voters go to the polls in June.

Republican Warns GOP Presidential Candidates of Military Sexual-Assault Vote

March 7, 2014

The Senate narrowly blocked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's bill to remove prosecutorial decisions for military sexual assaults and other felonies from the chain of command.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who has vast experience as a military lawyer, said a vote in favor of the New York Democrat's proposal could come back to haunt to GOP presidential aspirants in the Senate.

"People wanting to run for president on our side, I will remind you of this vote. You want to be commander in chief? You told me a a lot today about who you are as commander in chief," Graham said. "You were willing to fire every commander in the military for reasons I don't quite understand. So we will have a good conversation as to whether or not you understand how the military actually works."

Alexander, Feinstein Restate Displeasure With In-Flight Phone Calls

March 7, 2014

The Senate’s leading voices against in-flight cellphone calls are at it again.

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