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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:

Reid Keeps Filibuster in Pocket, Says McCain Is Wasting His Time With Defense Bill (Video)

June 2, 2015

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., thinks Armed Services Chairman John McCain is going to be wasting his time managing the defense authorization bill on the floor over the next few weeks.

Elizabeth Warren Blasts SEC's Mary Jo White (Updated)

June 2, 2015

Updated 11:47 a.m. | In the aftermath of a meeting last month between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White, the Massachusetts Democrat is detailing her disappointment with the top securities regulator, including about campaign finance.

Appropriations Bills Face Democratic Roadblock

June 1, 2015

It might be too early to put the nail in the coffin of the fiscal 2016 appropriations process, but get your hammer ready.

Appealing to Hawks, Lindsey Graham Jumps Into 2016 Presidential Ring

June 1, 2015

Updated 2:42 p.m. | Just hours after Sen. Rand Paul claimed a temporary victory in his quest to rein in the National Security Agency, the leader of what the Kentucky Republican blasted as the “eye-roll caucus” threw his own hat into the 2016 presidential ring.

Leahy Recalls Seeing Beau Biden in Iraq (Video)

May 31, 2015

The Senate’s rare Sunday session convened on a somber note, mourning the loss of a son of the chamber’s president.

USA Freedom Act Supporters Say They Have the Votes (Updated)

May 31, 2015

Updated 4:49 p.m. | Senate advocates for an overhaul of National Security Agency surveillance programs sound confident they have the votes to advance the USA Freedom Act. It’s just a matter of time.

To Counter Putin, Poland and Lithuania Officials Want U.S. Bases, Durbin Says

May 29, 2015

Officials in Lithuania and Poland told Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin they’re concerned enough about the threat posed by Russia that they want to host U.S. military bases.

Rand Paul Will Force Patriot Act Provisions to Expire (Updated)

May 29, 2015

Updated May 30, 11:06 a.m. | Sen. Rand Paul made it official Saturday: Patriot Act surveillance authorities are going to lapse.

Graham Bids Reluctant Farewell to Air Force Reserve

May 28, 2015

Sen. Lindsey Graham has known for months that with his 60th birthday approaching, the deadline for mandatory retirement from the Air Force Reserve is just ahead of him.

Cruz Threatens to Subpoena Treasury Officials to Testify About Obamacare Rules

May 27, 2015

Sen. Ted Cruz is warning he might seek to compel testimony from the Treasury Department about the Affordable Care Act.

Lindsey Graham Rolls Eyes at Rand Paul

May 27, 2015

As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to wrap up debate on the National Security Agency’s surveillance program early Saturday with a series of consent agreements, Sen. Rand Paul wasn’t the only Senator in the spotlight.

As Paul objected to a proposed, Sen. Lindsey Graham could be seen rolling his eyes on the Senate floor. Paul responded to the “eye roll” caucus of senators Wednesday, after the clip was circulated by multiple media outlets.

“If I’m going to slug it out Sunday with the spy state apologists, I’m going to need all the help and support I can get,” the Kentucky Republican wrote. “Unfortunately, it seems the President, the senior senator from Arizona and other members of the ‘eye roll’ caucus who can’t stand any mention of the Bill of Rights are all operating out of the same playbook.”

Senate Seersucker Thursday Returns June 11

May 27, 2015

It is time to once again mark your calendars — Seersucker Thursday will be June 11.

Menendez, McCain Sent Letter to FIFA Just Before Indictments

May 27, 2015

Well, this timing was prescient.

After Rand Paul's Objections, Patriot Act Lurches Toward Expiration (Updated)

May 22, 2015

Updated May 23, 2 a.m. | The Senate failed to advance even a one-day extension of the Patriot Act surveillance authorities early Saturday, with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., leading bipartisan objections to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in an extraordinary sequence.

Cruz, Rubio Team Up on Iran

May 22, 2015

Rival Republican presidential candidates Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida are teaming up on Iran.

Administration Ramps Up NSA Pitch as Burr Makes New Offer

May 21, 2015

As the Senate Intelligence chairman floated a new proposal, the Obama administration is warning senators against doing anything other than clearing the USA Freedom Act.

Intelligence Chairman Doubts Either NSA Bill Has 60 Votes

May 21, 2015

“Fortunately, I’m not the one that’s responsible for counting the votes,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday when asked about Congress possibly moving a shorter-term extension of expiring Patriot Act surveillance powers.

Just Before Midnight, Rand Paul Ends 'Filibuster' (Updated)

May 20, 2015

Updated May 21, 7:18 a.m. | Sen. Rand Paul continued to speak until almost midnight — and his campaign operation continued to solicit fundraising dollars — on the most eventful day of waiting the Senate’s seen in a while.

Stabenow: Opponents 'Have to Deal With' Currency Amendment on Trade

May 20, 2015

Whenever the Senate’s able to vote to limit debate on the pending trade legislation, senators will still have to tackle a tough amendment about currency manipulation.

Rand Paul Takes the Floor to Contest NSA Surveillance (Updated) (Video)

May 20, 2015

Updated 2:44 p.m. | At approximately 1:18 p.m. Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul took to the Senate floor for what’s best described as an extended oration about the Fourth Amendment.

Graham, Cantwell Threaten Trade Deal Over Ex-Im Bank

May 19, 2015

With the Export-Import Bank’s charter set to expire at the end of June, Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., made a last-minute push on the floor Tuesday to include a reauthorization vote as part of any "fast-track” trade agreement, threatening to derail a trade deal Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has carefully managed over the past two weeks.

“My colleagues and I who support the Ex-Im Bank reauthorization, which is the majority in both the House and the Senate, have lost their patience with the ability to get this Bank before the Senate and before the House before that June 30 deadline,” Cantwell said. “So I have no compulsion at this moment to say that I don’t support moving forward on the cloture motion until we get an understanding of how this bank is going to be reauthorized.”

McConnell, who earlier in the day said he planned to schedule floor debate and a vote on Ex-Im, just not as an amendment to Trade Promotion Authority legislation, filed cloture on “fast-track” measures, setting up a vote on the package Thursday morning.

McConnell Sets Trade Promotion Authority Endgame in Motion (Video)

May 19, 2015

After a series of dueling objections, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved Tuesday evening to limit debate on the Trade Promotion Authority bill that’s a top priority for himself and President Barack Obama, but the endgame was far from clear.

Senator Obama vs. President Obama on Trade

May 19, 2015

Not long after the administration went public with a veto threat against his currency manipulation trade amendment, Sen. Rob Portman took to the floor to highlight President Barack Obama’s flip-flop on the issue.

Plenty to Navigate to Get 'Fast Track' Through Senate (Updated) (Video)

May 19, 2015

Updated 6:21 p.m. | The pathway to Senate passage of legislation to restore “fast-track” authority for trade authority is full of obstacles, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to avoid any more.

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