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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:

What's 'Life After Congress' for a Temporary Senator?

April 14, 2015

BOSTON — Sporting a Red Sox cap and a fleece jacket emblazoned with the logo of his law firm, you wouldn’t know that the man in the corner booth of a diner was a historic figure, one of just nine African-Americans to have ever served in the United States Senate.

Iran, Medicare, Trafficking Top Senate's Spring Agenda

April 14, 2015

In his opening remarks Tuesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell added to a growing Senate to-do list, praising bipartisan efforts on education policy, cybersecurity and trade promotion authority while saying bipartisan House-passed legislation replacing Medicare’s sustainable growth rate deserved a Senate vote, despite opposition from some conservatives.

McConnell reaffirmed the Senate's need to address human-trafficking legislation before moving to a vote to confirm Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, and McConnell also said Sen. Bob Corker’s bill giving Congress a role in reviewing any Iran nuclear agreement is a high priority.

“The legislation is supported by a large number of Democrats. It’s no wonder why,” McConnell said of the Corker-sponsored Iran bill. “The bill is aimed at giving Congress and the American people a say in reviewing and approving an international agreement with such wide-ranging consequences."

Johnson Reviewing Options After Obamacare Lawsuit

April 14, 2015

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson isn’t ruling out further challenges to the Obama administration’s treatment of members of Congress and their staff members under the Affordable Care Act.

Bipartisanship on Display on No Child Left Behind Replacement Effort

April 13, 2015

Congress has no shortage of trouble moving big-ticket legislation, so it might be preposterous to think the Senate can move forward on replacing the education law known most recently as No Child Left Behind.

Senate Returns to an Immediate 'Doc Fix' Deadline

April 13, 2015

Lawmakers will already be facing a time crunch when the Senate returns Monday.

Obama Torches McCain Over Criticism of Kerry on Iran

April 11, 2015

President Barack Obama lit into Sen. John McCain Saturday over the Arizona Republican’s recent comments about the framework agreement with Iran about its nuclear program.

After Budget Votes, Democrats Push Paid Sick Leave, Middle Class Tax Credits, Federal Benefits for Gay Couples (Updated)

April 10, 2015

Updated 1:28 p.m. | Senate Democrats want Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to embrace lessons of the budget vote-a-rama that took place just before recess.

At Appomattox, Tim Kaine Calls for Unity

April 9, 2015

“So will we look for new opportunities to lay down arms — physical, verbal, spiritual — and unify one with another?” Sen. Tim Kaine asked Thursday, standing on the hallowed ground at the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park.

David Krone Departing Reid's Office, Former Sergeant-at-Arms Taking Over

April 9, 2015

Updated 12:53 p.m. | The long-rumored departure of David Krone as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s chief of staff is official.

Boxer Wants Corker to Delay Iran Review Legislation

April 9, 2015

As Foreign Relations Committee Democrats begin to float amendments to legislation designed to give Congress a voice in a nuclear security agreement with Iran, one of them is asking the panel’s chairman to delay the measure entirely.

Harry Reid Still 'Sightless' In Right Eye (Video)

April 7, 2015

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid went through multiple surgeries, but vision has not returned to his right eye.

Murphy, Blumenthal Confident About Friendly Bet on Women's Basketball Title Game

April 7, 2015

The Connecticut and Indiana Senate delegations have made a rather sweet wager ahead of Tuesday night’s NCAA women’s basketball championship game in Florida, and the Connecticut senators are sounding pretty confident.

Rand Paul's 'Read the Bills' Resolution Doesn't Do Much

April 7, 2015

Sen. Rand Paul’s proposal to require his Senate colleagues to read bills before voting on them would be almost wholly symbolic.

Rand Paul's Message to Iran

April 7, 2015

Ahead of his rollout of his presidential campaign, Sen. Rand Paul’s team is already pushing back against charges that the Kentucky Republican is weak on Iran.

McConnell Skeptical of Iran Deal After Leading Freshmen on Middle East Trip

April 6, 2015

Fresh off a trip to the Middle East, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reaffirmed Monday afternoon that his chamber would weigh in legislatively regarding the framework agreement between the United States, Iran and other nations involved in the negotiations.

GOP Hawks Quick to Blast Iran Framework (Video)

April 2, 2015

Not long after President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry separately announced a framework agreement for a nuclear deal with Iran, one GOP senator was already likening it to appeasement.

Senators Want 2018 World Cup Taken Away From Putin

April 1, 2015

A bipartisan coalition of 13 senators is asking soccer’s governing body to give consideration to relocating the 2018 World Cup out of Russia, citing the the incursion into the territory of Ukraine.

Menendez Indicted on Federal Corruption Charges (Updated)

April 1, 2015

Updated 8:31 p.m. | After months of rumor and speculation, Sen. Robert Menendez has finally been indicted on corruption charges.

Remembering Ted Kennedy, in Senate Session of Sorts

March 30, 2015

BOSTON — “Lord. What an amazing day this has been,” Senate Chaplain Barry Black said, offering an opening prayer for a session of a replica chamber constructed as the centerpiece of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate.

Even Senators Are Awestruck by Ted Kennedy's Senate Chamber

March 30, 2015

BOSTON — There are few places in the political world as awe inspiring as the Senate chamber, but there’s now a pretty darn good modern replica that will be a living legacy for the liberal lion, Edward M. Kennedy.

Patty Murray Backs Schumer for Leader

March 30, 2015

BOSTON — Having won the backing of the entire leadership team, New York’s Charles E. Schumer might become the next Senate Democratic leader by acclamation.

McConnell Praises 'Son of Searchlight'

March 27, 2015

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has had no shortage of battles with his Democratic counterpart Harry Reid of Nevada over the years, but when the minority leader announced his retirement Friday, the Kentucky Republican offered kind words.

Reid, Durbin Endorse Schumer as Next Leader (Updated) (Video)

March 27, 2015

Updated 4:36 p.m. | Some senators and aides may have barely awoken after a late-night budget vote-a-rama by the time not only had the chamber’s minority leader announced his retirement, but the gears were turning toward a succession plan.

Deal on Kirk's Iran Amendment Leads to Unanimous Vote

March 26, 2015

As evening approached in the Senate’s budget vote-a-rama, lawmakers found some common ground on Iran. A 100-0 vote followed.

Live, On Periscope, From the Vote-a-Rama

March 26, 2015

For a pair of Republican senators, the budget vote-a-rama seemed like a great time to demonstrate they aren’t luddites.

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