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Niels Lesniewski

Bio:

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: No Obamacare Amendments on Tax Cut Bill (Video)

May 20, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has no interest in debating a repeal of the medical device excise tax as part of any negotiations to revive a stalled tax cut bill.

Rand Paul to Take the Floor to Again Contest Drone Policy, White House to Release Memo (Updated)

May 20, 2014

Updated 7:25 p.m. | Sen. Rand Paul intends to take the Senate floor Wednesday to contest the nomination of David J. Barron to be a federal appeals court judge, though it doesn’t appear the Kentucky Republican will halt Barron’s confirmation.

Reid Hints He May Go 'Nuclear' Again

May 20, 2014

On the morning of his Republican counterpart’s primary back home in Kentucky, Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would not change the Senate’s rules in his absence.

But Minority Leader Mitch McConnell might well be advised to be prepared for another floor standoff over consideration of nominations.

“I don’t plan on changing the rules today again, but how much longer can we put up with this?" the Nevada Democrat said during his opening remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday. "Even law enforcement officers … even law enforcement officers, as I’ve indicated here, they’re holding them up for no reason."

Reid Hints at 'Nuclear' Summer Over Debate Time (Video) (Updated)

May 20, 2014

Updated 3:30 p.m. | On the morning of his Republican counterpart’s primary back home in Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would not change the chamber’s rules in his absence.

King, Collins: Bipartisan Texting Buddies (Video)

May 19, 2014

Kids these days are always texting, and by kids we mean Maine’s senators.

Collins: Angus King 'Taught Me How to Text'

May 19, 2014

Kids these days are always texting, and by kids we mean Maine’s senators.

At a joint event Friday in which independent Angus King announced his endorsement of his Republican colleague Susan Collins’ re-election bid, King said the pair traded texts about the endorsement while Collins later added that it was King who taught her how to text, making her nieces and nephews "very happy."

Elizabeth Warren Leads Progressive Charge, but Has GOP Admirers Too

May 19, 2014

“What reaction do you usually expect from banks?” Sen. Elizabeth Warren asked a reporter last week.

Durbin: Pentagon Should Allow DREAMers to Enlist in Armed Forces

May 19, 2014

The Senate’s top defense appropriator wants the Pentagon to act on its own to allow some undocumented immigrants to enlist in the military, if the House does not move ahead on immigration legislation.

Dianne Feinstein: John Lewis Thinks Georgia Judge Deal With Boggs 'Was a Good Ticket'

May 18, 2014

Maybe Michael P. Boggs still has a chance to become a federal judge in Georgia.

McCain: 'We Should All Be Ashamed' of VA Health Scandal

May 17, 2014

In the weekly GOP address, one of the Senate’s few remaining veterans criticized the Obama administration’s management of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

VA's Top Health Official Resigns Amid Scandal, Shinseki Announces (Updated)

May 16, 2014

Updated 4:05 p.m. | The chief health official at the Department of Veterans Affairs resigned Friday, amid an ongoing scandal about wait times and deaths within the VA health system.

Reid Sets Barron Vote After Meeting With White House Lawyers, Paul Plans Filibuster (Updated)

May 15, 2014

Updated 5:50 p.m. | The Senate’s set to vote next week on a federal appeals court nominee who played a key role in the Obama administrations’s drone policy.

Reid Responds to Obama's Comment on Changing Filibuster

May 15, 2014

“Does he know we already did that?” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid quipped when asked about a comment President Barack Obama made Wednesday about changing the Senate’s filibuster rule.

Veterans Affairs Head Will Not Resign

May 15, 2014

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki faced a barrage of bipartisan outrage Thursday morning, with senators from both parties pointing to systemic problems at the department he manages. But when asked by Nevada Republican Dean Heller why he shouldn’t resign, the secretary said his post was not a job, but a mission.

"I came here to make things better for veterans," Shinseki said. "We're not done yet, and I intend to continue this mission until I've satisfied either that goal or I'm told by the Commander-in-Chief that my time has been served."

Shinseki Faces Barrage at Veterans Affairs Committee, Won't Resign (Video)

May 15, 2014

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki faced a barrage of bipartisan outrage Thursday morning, with senators from both parties pointing to systemic problems at the department he manages.

Reid Opposes Boggs Nomination for Now, Will Consult John Lewis

May 14, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that “unless I’m convinced otherwise,” he will oppose confirmation of Michael P. Boggs to be a federal judge in Georgia.

Democrats Plan Student Loan Push in June

May 14, 2014

Senate Democrats plan to make their new push on student loan interest rates shortly after the Memorial Day recess.

Medical Device Tax Repeal Vote Sought by GOP

May 13, 2014

Republicans are eager to attach a repeal of a medical device surtax to the tax cut extension package on the Senate floor, but the chamber's top Democrat seems to have no appetite for it.

Sen. John Barrasso discussed the tax both at a Republican leadership media availability and again shortly thereafter with a smaller group of reporters.

"The Democrats will have an opportunity this week on the floor of the Senate to deal with jobs, the economy and the devastating side effects of the health care law," the Wyoming Republican said. "I think it's time to actually take a look at the medical device tax and truly putting forth, in a vote, an opportunity to eliminate the medical device tax."

While Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would not speculate on how his members might vote, the prospects for the underlying tax cut bill passing the Senate without amendments seemed dubious.

"The bill does enjoy support. It is always our hope to have amendments," the Kentucky Republican said, adding that he would not prognosticate about what might happen if Reid blocks amendments.

Democrats Hint DOJ Misled Court on Surveillance

May 13, 2014

Two Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are blasting the Obama administration for potentially misleading the Supreme Court about the scope of surveillance activities back in 2012.

Reid: 'I'm Not Going To Cry Any Big Tears' Over Medical Device Tax

May 13, 2014

Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday rebuked Republicans eager to attach a repeal of a medical device surtax to the tax cut extension package on the Senate floor.

"I'm not going to cry any big tears over the device folks," Reid told reporters at Democrats weekly news conference. "Their profits were huge last year."

Medical Device Tax Repeal Vote Sought by GOP (Video)

May 13, 2014

Republicans are eager to attach a repeal of a medical device surtax to the tax cut extension package on the Senate floor, but the chamber’s top Democrat seems to have no appetite for it.

Reid Hopes for Senate Vote on Barron Nomination 'Soon'

May 13, 2014

Senators could soon face a vote on Harvard Law Professor David J. Barron — the author of legal opinions backing the Obama administration’s drone policy — to be a federal appeals court judge.

“I’m going to try to do it soon,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday. ”We got some complaints yesterday, people hadn’t had the time to go downstairs and spend a half hour reading the memos. So I’m sure that they, if they need more time, we’ll get ‘em more time.”

Reid Hopes for Senate Vote on Barron Nomination 'Soon' (Video)

May 13, 2014

Senators could soon face a vote on Harvard Law Professor David J. Barron — the author of legal opinions backing the Obama administration’s drone policy — to be a federal appeals court judge.

Democrats Not Cheering Walsh Proposal for Budget Balance Before Recess

May 12, 2014

Sen. John Walsh’s proposal to cancel recesses until adopting a budget resolution that balances the books by 2024 isn’t exactly getting endorsements.

Tax Bill Highlights Split Between Grover Norquist, Club for Growth

May 12, 2014

The tax-cut-extension bill set for the Senate floor this week highlights a longstanding fissure between Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and the Club for Growth.

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