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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:

Grassley to Ramp Up Oversight at Judiciary

Jan. 26, 2015

When Loretta Lynch paid Sen. Charles E. Grassley a visit last month, the new Judiciary Committee chairman handed her a book — of all the unanswered letters he’s sent to the administration.

John McCain's Counterterrorism Contretemps

Jan. 26, 2015

“Yeah, you know, Yemen falls to the Houthis, and we’re talking about football.”

McConnell Shows He's the Boss

Jan. 23, 2015

The honeymoon may be over for Mitch McConnell.

Reid Opines on '#Deflategate'

Jan. 22, 2015

Toward the end of his first media availability since his New Year's Day injury, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid weighed in on reports that 11 of the New England Patriots' 12 game balls were under-inflated, saying he didn't know why it was allowed to happen.

"As far as how much weight's in a football, as far as I know, I can't believe the National Football League, with the billions of dollars they make, couldn't at least determine how much air should be in a football ... why it should be left up to the teams," Reid said.

Harry Reid Reflects on Life of Wendell Ford

Jan. 22, 2015

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid reflected on the life of the late former Sen. Wendell Ford, calling Ford a "fine man" during a news conference in Reid's Capitol office suite.

"As a new senator I met with him,” Reid said. “He said ‘I am from Kentucky, I drink Kentucky bourbon, and I smoke Kentucky cigarettes all the time’ … He was a fine man, people in Kentucky love him, as they should.”

Graham: Anti-Abortion Bill Will Return, but 'Nobody's for Rape'

Jan. 22, 2015

The lead Senate sponsor of anti-abortion legislation that was pulled from the House schedule late Wednesday said Thursday it should not move forward without changes to the rape provision.

Harry Reid 'Intending to Run,' Expects Swift Recovery

Jan. 22, 2015

The venue was different, and his face was bruised and bandaged, but Harry Reid was still Harry Reid.

With an American and Nevada flag in the background, along with a bald eagle and a box of "Search Light" matches on the wall over his shoulder, Reid held court with reporters in a meeting room in his Capitol office suite for a news conference that could've taken place any Tuesday afternoon near the Senate's iconic Ohio Clock.

Of course, many of the questions were about the minority leader's medical prognosis and any effect it might have on his decision about making a run for another six years in the Senate in 2016.

The Nevada Democrat expects to be back to full-time work soon, and intends to run for re-election.

Nevada Senators Blast NFL Over Under-Inflated Footballs

Jan. 22, 2015

Nevada’s senators had stern words Thursday for the National Football League in the aftermath of findings that the New England Patriots made use of under-inflated footballs.

Wendell Ford, Longtime Kentucky Senator, Dies at 90

Jan. 22, 2015

Kentucky political legend and purveyor of Southern wit Wendell H. Ford has died.

Harry Reid to Undergo Eye Surgery

Jan. 21, 2015

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is scheduled to have eye surgery on Monday, a result of his New Year’s Day exercise accident.

Sessions Poised to Have Immigration Oversight Role

Jan. 21, 2015

One of the most vocal critics of President Barack Obama’s immigration policies appears set to wield the gavel of a key Senate subcommittee.

Grassley Preps 2016 Re-Election

Jan. 21, 2015

Sen. Charles E. Grassley doesn’t plan to be caught flat-footed if he faces a competitive, expensive re-election battle in 2016.

Obama Meets With 105-Year-Old Amelia Boynton Before SOTU

Jan. 20, 2015

Shortly before delivering the State of the Union address, President Barack Obama met briefly with 105 year-old civil rights figure Amelia Boynton in a holding room at the Capitol.

Rand Paul to Quote MLK, John Lewis in SOTU Response

Jan. 20, 2015

Sen. Rand Paul plans to quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when responding to Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

Harry Reid Back at Capitol, Will Miss State of the Union (Updated)

Jan. 20, 2015

Updated 3:04 p.m. | Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid returned to the Capitol Tuesday to lead the Democratic Caucus lunch, but he won’t be making it to the State of the Union address.

Rand Paul's Message: 'Do No Harm' In Foreign Affairs

Jan. 20, 2015

Possible 2016 contender Sen. Rand Paul says that the foreign policy potion of his own response to Tuesday’s State of the Union address will focus on an old adage from his medical career: “Do no harm.”

Obama Would End Death Tax Break for Wealthy to Fund Middle Class Tax Breaks, Programs

Jan. 17, 2015

President Barack Obama’s sweeping new tax proposal, detailed by senior administration officials Saturday, takes aim at the less-well-known death tax break.

Tony Blair Delivers 'Churchillian' Speech to Senate, House GOP

Jan. 16, 2015

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair drew three standing ovations when he addressed the joint House-Senate Republican retreat Thursday with a speech that one lawmaker likened to the oratory of Winston Churchill.

Obama Meets Senate Democrats in Baltimore After Lunch With Mikulski (Updated)

Jan. 15, 2015

Updated 3:40 p.m. | BALTIMORE — President Barack Obama may not be Jay Leno, but he has earned top billing at the annual issues conference for Senate Democrats at a hotel where he’s speaking Thursday.

Review Finds No Grounds for Discipline in Senate 'Spying' Matter

Jan. 14, 2015

A review commissioned by the CIA has determined that agency personnel should not face discipline for improperly accessing Senate computer files.

GOP Heads to Joint Retreat With Coordination, Realism on Agenda

Jan. 14, 2015

With hopes high for the new era of GOP majority control, House and Senate Republicans are headed off the Hill to plot a course for the party’s stymied legislative agenda.

Harry Reid Absent, but Still in Charge

Jan. 14, 2015

As Senate Democrats headed to Baltimore for their retreat, Minority Leader Harry Reid wasn’t with them — but he will be listening in.

Thune Floats Highway Bill as Reconciliation Candidate

Jan. 13, 2015

A top Senate Republican is floating the idea of using the budget reconciliation process to solve the highway bill funding puzzle.

The Tweeting Whip

Jan. 13, 2015

Send a tweet to @JohnCornyn, and it turns out you’re actually reaching Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn.

Power Takes Obama's Iran Case to Kentucky

Jan. 12, 2015

America’s top diplomat at the United Nations took the Obama administration’s case against enhancing Iran sanctions to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home turf Monday — delivering remarks that sounded like a State of the Union prelude.

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