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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:

Putin Should Pay if Malaysia Airlines Jet Was Shot Down, McCain Says (Video)

July 17, 2014

If it’s determined that Ukrainian separatists shot down the Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed in Eastern Ukraine Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin should face consequences, Sen. John McCain said.

Democratic Leaders Plan to Bypass Wyden on Internet Sales Tax Combo Bill (Video)

July 16, 2014

Senate Democratic leaders plan to do an end run around Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden and combine House-passed legislation extending a moratorium on taxing Internet access with a Senate-passed proposal to require online retailers to collect sales tax.

Durbin Wants Defense Spending Bill on the Floor, but Isn't Optimistic

July 16, 2014

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin would not concede that the only way forward for fiscal 2015 appropriations is a continuing resolution, but he wasn’t very optimistic.

Senate Confirms Federal Judge 17 Years After Nomination

July 16, 2014

Roughly 17 years after first being nominated, Ronnie L. White is finally on his way to becoming a federal judge in Missouri.

The Senate confirmed White, 53-44, to a seat in the Eastern District of Missouri after limiting debate earlier in the day with 54 affirmative votes, short of the 60 that used to be required for cloture before Democrats used the "nuclear option" in 2013 to effectively change the rules.

White's nomination during the Clinton administration eventually fell on a party-line vote in 1999, 45-54. Republicans had the majority in the Senate at that time. Ahead of Wednesday's action, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., called the original vote "a grievous error."

Democrats Want Jail Time for Corporate Executives Hiding Safety Risks

July 16, 2014

A group of Democratic senators wants corporate officers to risk jail time for concealing safety threats from the public and government regulators.

Ronnie White Reaches Federal Bench — 17 Years Later (Video)

July 16, 2014

Roughly 17 years after first being nominated, Ronnie L. White is finally on his way to becoming a federal judge in Missouri.

Reid Doubts Unemployment Extension Will Come Up in Highway Bill Debate

July 16, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would work as quickly as possible to advance a highway funding patch, but an unemployment extension isn’t likely to get a chance to hitchhike on it.

Will Congress Take August Recess Before Relieving VA Health Crisis? (Video)

July 16, 2014

A few weeks ago, it would have been unthinkable that Congress would leave for August recess without sending a VA health care bill to President Barack Obama’s desk.

Reid Says Border Already Secure (Video)

July 15, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asserted bluntly Tuesday ”the border is secure.”

Harkin's HELP Committee Shows Off the Lost Art of Legislating

July 15, 2014

Ask Sen. Tom Harkin about his committee’s work this Congress and he’s ready to rattle off a key statistic.

No Border Money Unless Obama Disavows Expanding DACA, Senator Says

July 15, 2014

Sen. Jeff Sessions is calling on his fellow lawmakers to reject any new spending to address the immigration crisis at the border until President Barack Obama disavows any plans to expand deportation relief known as DACA.

Cornyn, Durbin Highlight Divide on Immigration Supplemental

July 10, 2014

If you want to see the Senate’s divide on a supplemental spending package to address the flood of unaccompanied migrant children crossing the border, look no further than the chamber’s two whips.

Justice Department Declines to Open Probe of CIA 'Spying' on Senate (Updated)

July 10, 2014

Updated 4:37 p.m. | The Justice Department is declining to open a formal investigation into the sparring between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA.

CBO Score Continues to Vex Veterans Bill Talks

July 9, 2014

The sky-high CBO score for a veterans’ health care overhaul continues to stall progress weeks after separate bills blitzed through the House and Senate.

Gun Politics Overtake Hunting Bill

July 9, 2014

Gun politics appear all-but-certain to destroy any chance of advancing a bipartisan hunting, fishing and conservation package — and with it, a chance for Sen. Kay Hagan and other endangered Democrats to tout their bipartisan legislative bona fides ahead of the November elections.

Sportmen's Bill Faces Gun Amendment Gauntlet (Updated)

July 9, 2014

Updated 1:01 p.m. | The bipartisan sportsmen’s bill appeared on the verge of collapse Wednesday.

Democrats' Hobby Lobby Response Would Curtail Religious Freedom Law (Video)

July 8, 2014

If Sen. Patty Murray and fellow Democrats get their way, employers wouldn’t be able to use a 1990s-era law to avoid Obamacare health coverage mandates for contraception.

Bipartisan Sportsmen's Bill Sparks Gun Control Duel

July 8, 2014

A bipartisan bundle of hunting and fishing legislation could get shot down by a partisan battle over gun control.

McCain: Cut Aid to Countries Fueling Immigration Crisis

July 7, 2014

A GOP architect of the Senate’s immigration plan is calling for at least threatening to cut aid to Central American countries that don’t take steps to stop the flow of unaccompanied migrant children to the United States.

Illinois Mourns Former Sen. Alan Dixon (Updated)

July 6, 2014

Updated 7:45 p.m. | Former Illinois Sen. Alan J. Dixon died Sunday at his home in Fairview Heights, his family said.

Begich Slams McCaskill in Feud Over Alaska Native Corporations

July 2, 2014

It isn’t the first time an Alaska senator has chastised a colleague for a lack of understanding about his non-contiguous state.

Ahead of Obama Bridge Visit, DOT Warns States Highway Trust Fund Checks Will Slow

July 1, 2014

With President Barack Obama set to speak later in the day in front of the Key Bridge, his Transportation secretary is warning states checks will slow if Congress doesn’t patch the hole in the Highway Trust Fund soon.

Ted Cruz Doesn't Disavow SCF Call to Defund NRSC

July 1, 2014

A conservative outside group whose efforts Sen. Ted Cruz backed has called for defunding the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Wyden: 'Why Hasn't the Bulk Collection of Americans' Phone Records Been Ended?'

June 30, 2014

Sen. Ron Wyden is raising additional concerns about "backdoor" queries of communications by American citizens by federal intelligence and law enforcement authorities.

During an open hearing on June 5, the Oregon Democrat pressed the Obama administration about the collection of records.

"Why hasn't the bulk collection of Americans' phone records been ended?" Wyden said. "The fact that this dragnet surveillance is taking place right now is unacceptable to me."

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