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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:

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.

Reid Open to Reported House Spending Proposal

Dec. 2, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid struck an optimistic tone Tuesday discussing a reported House spending proposal to bundle 11 of the 12 regular spending bills for fiscal 2015 together with a shorter-term continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

At his weekly news conference, the Nevada Democrat said while such a bill would be a "big accomplishment," it would be "unfortunate" to not include funding for the DHS.

"I'm doing everything I can to help the Republican leaders accomplish what I believe they say publicly and privately what they want, and I hope they'll say yes for an answer," Reid said, while warning against listening to "extremists" on the GOP side.

He did note that Democrats need to see what policy riders appear before giving the spending package his blessing.

Thune Puts Leagues on Notice Ahead of Likely Commerce Chairmanship

Dec. 2, 2014

Professional sports leagues shouldn’t expect any less Senate oversight when Republicans take control 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.

Liberal Groups Want Longer Lame Duck to Confirm Nominees

Dec. 1, 2014

A coalition of largely liberal organizations has written a letter asking the Senate to extend the lame duck to allow as many of President Barack Obama’s nominees to win confirmation before Republicans take control of the chamber.

Reid Says December Work Period May Approach Christmas

Dec. 1, 2014

As the Senate returned from the Thanksgiving break, Majority Leader Harry Reid was already encouraging colleagues to work quickly to complete work for the year.

While both the House and the Senate would like to complete activity for the lame-duck session by the end of next week, the Nevada Democrat who will cede the majority leader's post when the Congress ends was already warning that work could approach Christmas.

"We need to work on reauthorizing defense authorization legislation. We have a lot to do, and there isn't much time to accomplish it. So, I encourage all senators to work hard to complete our work in a timely and efficient fashion. We may have to be here the week before Christmas, and hopefully ... not into the Christmas holiday," Reid said. "But, there are things we have to get done."

Reid Threatens to Keep Senate Scheduled Until Christmas (Video)

Dec. 1, 2014

As the Senate returned from the Thanksgiving break, Majority Leader Harry Reid was already encouraging colleagues to act quickly to complete work for the year.

Mark Warner Named to Senate Democratic Leadership

Nov. 28, 2014

A senator who voted against keeping Harry Reid as the Democratic leader is getting a seat at the leadership table.

Tom Harkin Is Reflecting, but Trying Not to Stare

Nov. 28, 2014

At the end of an extended interview in his Senate office, Tom Harkin realized he had neglected to show off a prized possession — his father’s Works Progress Administration card.

Schumer: Health Care Distracted Democrats From the Middle Class

Nov. 25, 2014

Sen. Charles E. Schumer says Democrats need to have a realistic agenda for demonstrating the importance of government to middle class voters, citing a rather unlikely subject as detracting from that message: health care.

Ted Cruz Floats Joe Lieberman for Defense Secretary

Nov. 24, 2014

Sen. Ted Cruz has an idea for a new Defense secretary that the incoming Senate Armed Services chairman would love.

Republicans Push for More Iran Sanctions as Talks are Extended

Nov. 24, 2014

Monday’s seven-month extension of talks about the Iranian nuclear program make it very likely the Senate will vote on strengthening sanctions against Iran in the first part of 2015.

Politically Connected Ambassador Nominees to Get Floor Votes

Nov. 21, 2014

When the Senate returns from Thanksgiving, the first pressing business will be confirming a pair of President Barack Obama’s nominees who might not stand a chance in a Republican-led Senate.

Parents of 'Dreamers' Need Act of Congress, White House Says

Nov. 21, 2014

President Barack Obama’s sweeping immigration action leaves millions still at risk of deportation, including one group activists had long hoped the president would protect: the parents of the “Dreamers” he granted relief to two years ago.

Josh Holmes, the Mastermind of Team Mitch

Nov. 20, 2014

Much of the movie “Fargo” takes place in Minnesota, the home state of the aide in charge of the campaign that propelled Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell to the role of Senate majority leader in the next Congress.

Durbin Says Omnibus in Progress, Warns Against Defense CR

Nov. 20, 2014

Appropriators appear to be making good progress on behind-the-scenes negotiations on a big omnibus bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.

Senate's 2015 Calendar Features Fuller Weeks, Fewer Breaks

Nov. 20, 2014

In addition to longer workweeks, it appears the Senate will be in session more frequently in 2015.

GOP Senator: Obama Immigration Action Worse Than King George

Nov. 20, 2014

The next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said President Barack Obama's expected executive actions would go beyond the dreams of even King George III.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday night about a series of administration actions that Republicans have found objectionable, ranging from the use of recess appointments to the transfer of five Taliban prisoners out of the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

"It is no exaggeration to say that the freedom of the American people is at stake. That's what the framers believed," Grassley said, before quoting from James Madison in Federalist 51.

Grassley contended that what the White House is planning on immigration policy would go beyond the bounds of enforcement discretion and the powers of the executive branch, comparing it to a power that King George III of England would not have had in 1776, going back nearly a century before that.

McCain, Corker Doubtful of White House's ISIS Strategy, Intent for AUMF

Nov. 20, 2014

Leaving Wednesday’s closed briefing on the fight against the Islamic State, the terror group also known as ISIS or ISIL, Sen. John McCain said he doubted the Obama administration really wanted to have a new Authorization for Use of Military Force at all.

Grassley Says Obama's Immigration Action Worse Than King George (Video)

Nov. 19, 2014

The next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said President Barack Obama’s expected executive actions would go beyond the dreams of even King George III.

Negotiations Over CIA Torture Report Nearing End

Nov. 19, 2014

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein expects her panel’s long-delayed report on the CIA’s use of torture to be released before Republicans take over the chamber, signaling to reporters there’s one sticking point left.

Mike Enzi Challenging Jeff Sessions for Budget Gavel

Nov. 19, 2014

Senate Republicans have a battle for a gavel.

Loretta Lynch Nomination Will Wait as Reid Seeks Broader Deal (Video)

Nov. 18, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is hoping Republicans will play ball on confirming a number of President Barack Obama’s nominations before they take over the majority in the next Congress, but that list won’t include the next attorney general.

Reid Will Not Move on Attorney General Nominee in 2014

Nov. 18, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is hoping Republicans will play ball on confirming a number of President Barack Obama's nominations before they take over the majority in the next Congress, but that list won't include the next attorney general.

The Nevada Democrat said the White House wasn't pushing for confirmation of Loretta Lynch, the Brooklyn-based U.S. Attorney tapped by Obama to become the next attorney general, before Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., becomes the man in charge of the Senate floor schedule.

"My personal feeling is that the White House has, through intermediaries with me, have said don't be pushing that, we can do it after the first of the year," Reid said.

Cruz: Obama is No 'Monarch,' Pushes Short-Term Government Funding (Video)

Nov. 18, 2014

Sen. Ted Cruz doesn’t know if his effort to push off the debate on funding the government into next year will prove successful, but the Texas Republican is sure making an effort.

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