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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:

Manchin Still Opposes Repealing Obamacare

Feb. 21, 2014

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III is making clear he would oppose an immediate repeal of Obamacare.

Brothel Responds to Reid's Prostitutes/2016 GOP Convention Remarks

Feb. 21, 2014

One of Nevada’s legal brothels is rebutting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s argument that the state’s prostitution industry could be a reason Las Vegas loses out on hosting the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Murkowski Warns Alaskans Ending Filibusters Could Be Dangerous

Feb. 20, 2014

A little less than a week after a Senate floor standoff on raising the debt limit, a key Republican at the center of the storm was back in her home state warning of the possibility of future Senate rules changes.

Reid: Prostitution Might Hurt Las Vegas' GOP Convention Chances

Feb. 19, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he thinks legalized prostitution could work against Nevada’s efforts to host the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Booker, Menendez Ask Feds for Help With Salt Shortage

Feb. 18, 2014

New Jersey’s senators are seeking federal help to alleviate a shortage of rock salt prompted by the abundance of ice and snow.

Reid Set to Reap More 'Nuclear' Spoils

Feb. 18, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is putting the pedal to the metal to confirm President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees.

McConnell Responds to Cruz on Debt Limit, Takes Credit for Avoiding Default

Feb. 15, 2014

Responding to sharp criticism from Sen. Ted Cruz, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he voted to protect the country from default when he cast the decisive vote advancing the suspension of the debt limit this week.

Democrats Planning Climate Change All-Nighter

Feb. 14, 2014

Get ready! Senate Democrats might be rolling out the cots next month for a debate on climate change.

Senators’ Debt Limit Votes Kept Off Microphones; Reporters Protest

Feb. 13, 2014

In a major departure from procedure during Wednesday’s climactic vote on suspending the federal debt limit, the Senate kept some senators’ votes secret while the nearly hourlong tally was under way — a move that has drawn sharp criticism from Capitol Hill reporters.

The stakes for Wednesday’s vote were as high as they come, with the full faith and credit of the United States, the political future of Republican leaders and another government shutdown showdown on the line.

Senators' Debt Limit Votes Kept Off Microphones; Reporters Protest (Updated) (Video)

Feb. 13, 2014

Updated 4:15 p.m. | In a major departure from procedure during Wednesday’s climactic vote on suspending the federal debt limit, the Senate kept some senators’ votes secret while the nearly hourlong tally was under way — a move that has drawn sharp criticism from Capitol Hill reporters.

6 Republican Senators Switched Their Debt Limit Votes (Image)

Feb. 13, 2014

Six Senate Republicans switched from “nay” to “aye” on the critical vote allowing the nation’s debt limit to be extended, a copy of the official Senate vote tally sheet provided to CQ Roll Call on Thursday suggests.

Olympic Medal Tax Exemption Has Bipartisan Support

Feb. 13, 2014

Sen. John Thune is leading a revived effort for an Olympic medal tax exemption.

Schumer Praises Chobani for Donating Olympic Yogurt to Charity

Feb. 13, 2014

The Chobani yogurt caught in a customs snarl won’t be making it to Russia for the Olympics.

GOP Split Laid Bare on Debt Limit Vote

Feb. 12, 2014

The split between establishment Republicans and their tea party brethren over debt limit strategy boiled over on the Senate floor Wednesday, when GOP leaders scrambled to put down a filibuster threat by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

Senate Quietly Clears Military COLA Fix After Debt Limit Suspense

Feb. 12, 2014

After a suspenseful vote to suspend the debt limit, the atmosphere in the Senate returned to normal in time to clear a measure rescinding cuts in military pension cost-of-living adjustments from last December’s budget agreement.

Senate Set to Send Debt Limit Hike, Military COLA Fix to Obama (Updated)

Feb. 12, 2014

Updated 11:45 a.m. | The Senate is on track to clear a House-passed “clean” suspension of the federal debt limit and a bill fix to military pension cuts before lawmakers jet out of town.

Snow Forecast Could Speed Up Action on Debt Limit (Updated)

Feb. 11, 2014

Updated 4:57 p.m. | The Senate is once again racing Mother Nature: A final vote on a clean increase in the federal debt limit could come as early as Wednesday, provided Republican senators go along.

Police Investigate Suspicious Substance at Wyden's Office

Feb. 10, 2014

The office of Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., received an item that had white powder on it on Monday and, following standard procedure, contacted Capitol Police on Monday afternoon, according to a spokesman for the senator.

Smoke-Out: Harkin, Senate Democrats Ask Drug Stores to Follow CVS' Lead

Feb. 10, 2014

Eight Senate Democrats are pushing other drug store chains to follow the lead of CVS Caremark and ditch the habit of selling cigarettes.

One Obamacare Mandate Delay Announced as GOP Senators Question Another

Feb. 10, 2014

Smaller employers will have another year to comply with the requirement to provide health care to employees under Obamacare’s new requirements, even as Republican senators question how the administration will enforce the individual mandate at all.

McCain Says Costas 'Didn't Know What the Hell He Was Talking About' With Putin

Feb. 7, 2014

Sen. John McCain is no fan of a report about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s role in bringing the Winter Olympics to Sochi, Russia, that aired on NBC Thursday.

Lew Predicts Feb. 27 Debt Limit Deadline

Feb. 7, 2014

Mark your calendars for February 27.

With Baucus Confirmed, Wyden Talks Finance (Video)

Feb. 6, 2014

With Finance Chairman Max Baucus confirmed as the next ambassador to China, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is beginning to talk about his plans for his new gavel.

Baucus Confirmation On Track, Jobless Benefits Off Track

Feb. 6, 2014

The Senate is setting up a busy Thursday afternoon, on track to confirm one of its own to be the top U.S. diplomat in Beijing before the end of the day.

Gillibrand, McCaskill Resume Military Sexual-Assault Debate

Feb. 6, 2014

Senators are gearing up for a pre-recess floor battle on how to best respond to sexual assault in the armed forces.

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