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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:

Democratic Senator: Restrict Africa Visas Due to Ebola

Oct. 7, 2014

A Senate Democrat is joining the chorus of calls for travel restrictions from African countries with Ebola outbreaks.

Cruz Says 60 Days Are Up for War Powers Against ISIS

Oct. 6, 2014

Sen. Ted Cruz is pointing out that on Monday, the 60 days for military intervention under the War Powers Resolution should run out since the start of operations in Iraq against ISIS.

Schumer: Screen Passengers From Ebola-Stricken Areas

Oct. 5, 2014

New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer wants federal officials to check passengers from Ebola-afflicted countries for fevers when entering the United States.

Official Transcript of Biden Event Excludes 'Bitch' Quip

Oct. 3, 2014

If you were relying on the White House transcript of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s visit to Harvard, you would have missed the best quote.

Grimes Campaign Used Vehicles Owned By Family Business

Oct. 3, 2014

A tour bus that roiled Kentucky’s Senate race in August may have been parked after suggestions of impropriety, but smaller vehicles owned by companies associated with Alison Lundergan Grimes’ father have remained on the road for campaign purposes.

Biden Jokes: Being VP a 'Bitch'

Oct. 3, 2014

Minutes after repeating his familiar warning that sometimes he does not know when to stop saying all that he means, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. let out quite a quip at Harvard’s Institute of Politics Thursday night.

When a questioner identified himself as the vice president of the Harvard student body, Biden chimed in, “isn’t it a bitch, I mean … that vice president thing?”

Knowing what had just come out of his own mouth, Biden quickly added ”I’m joking. I’m joking. I’m joking. The best decision I ever made.

“That was a joke. That was a joke,” he continued.

Ted Cruz Asks FAA About Ebola Flight Ban

Oct. 2, 2014

Sen. Ted Cruz is asking the Federal Aviation Administration what it’s doing to prevent the spread of Ebola after the first U.S. diagnosis, which came in his home state.

Julia Pierson Resignation Steps on Schumer's Presser

Oct. 1, 2014

Sen. Charles E. Schumer’s plans to call for Julia Pierson’s resignation were spoiled when she beat him to the punch.

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson Resigns (Updated) (Video)

Oct. 1, 2014

Updated 3:44 p.m. | Julia Pierson has resigned as director of the Secret Service amid a firestorm over lapses in presidential security that had lawmakers lining up to call for her to go.

Bill Clinton Appears in Kentucky Senate Race Ad

Oct. 1, 2014

Former President Bill Clinton stars in a new ad for Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes’ bid to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Forest Service Photography Rule Faces Bipartisan Critics in the Senate

Sept. 30, 2014

Senators don’t seem satisfied with the Forest Service’s latest assurances that a proposal to require permits for commercial filming and still photography on federal lands won’t apply to the press or to recreational photographers.

Senators Laud FCC Rollback of Sports Blackout Rule

Sept. 30, 2014

Senators on Tuesday lauded the Federal Communications Commission’s move to do away with the rule that, in effect, keeps National Football League games that don’t sell out off the air in hometown markets.

Cornyn Warns Against Confirming Holder Successor in Lame Duck (Video)

Sept. 29, 2014

Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn said Monday the debate over replacing Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. will “take a lot of oxygen out of the air” for the post-election lame-duck session.

Ad Highlights Mitch McConnell's Role in Resolving Case (Video)

Sept. 29, 2014

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign is highlighting his efforts to resolve an overseas parental child abduction case, with the child’s mother sharing with Kentucky voters the story she previously told at a Senate hearing.

Inhofe Holds Up Ebola Funding, Seeks Details on Protecting Soldiers (Updated)

Sept. 26, 2014

Updated 3:55 p.m.| Senate Armed Services ranking member James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., is holding up most of a $1 billion request from the White House to combat the Ebola virus outbreak in Africa until the administration proposes a plan to keep soldiers from contracting the illness.

McConnell, Grimes Split on Marijuana Legalization Debate

Sept. 26, 2014

The national discussion about legalizing marijuana has now surfaced in Kentucky’s Senate race.

Ginsburg Won't Resign, Notes Senate Kept Filibuster for SCOTUS Despite 'Nuclear Option'

Sept. 23, 2014

Ruth Bader Ginsburg sounds like she might have retired from the Supreme Court if Senate Democrats went a step further with the “nuclear option.”

McConnell Asks Medicare to Help Detect Lung Cancer in Smokers

Sept. 22, 2014

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wants Medicare to do more for early detection of lung cancer, a particularly pronounced issue in Kentucky.

Barbara Boxer Blasts NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's News Conference in New Letter (Video)

Sept. 22, 2014

Sen. Barbara Boxer is making a personal appeal to the new National Football League executive in charge of government affairs, calling for more action to address domestic violence.

Before Approving ISIS War, Menendez Wants Intelligence Briefing (Video)

Sept. 22, 2014

The senator leading a push to authorize the war against ISIS after the elections wants an intelligence briefing first, so lawmakers know the full extent of the covert operations already under way.

Rand Paul Lambasts White House, Congress for Arming Syrian Rebels

Sept. 19, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., slammed the Obama administration and Congress Thursday for waging a "dishonest" war in Syria based on the 2001 AUMF.

"Listen carefully: Your representatives are sending $500 million to people who will tactically ally with al-Qaida," Paul said. "We voted to go to war in Afghanistan and I supported going into that war because we were attacked and we had to do something about it. But the thing is, that vote had nothing to do with this. Absolutely nothing to do with this. You are a dishonest person if you say otherwise."

The Senate later passed a continuing resolution 78-22, funding the government through Dec. 11 and arming and training Syrian rebels to fight the terror group ISIS.

Senate Votes to Fund Syrian Rebels Against ISIS, Avert Government Shutdown (Updated) (Video)

Sept. 18, 2014

Updated 6:50 p.m. | After some last-minute drama on immigration, the Senate took care of Congress’ last must-pass piece of business before the November elections — keeping the government funded and providing authority for arming and training Syrian rebels in the fight against the terror group known as ISIS.

Senate Republicans Pass Out Campaign Talking Points

Sept. 18, 2014

Senate Republicans are being sent home for election season with a tri-fold card that provides talking points on health care, taxes, the economy — even Senate procedure.

Blumenthal Floats Changes to NFL Antitrust Exemption (Video)

Sept. 17, 2014

A Senate Democrat is floating a proposal that could increase the government’s leverage over the activities of professional sports leagues like the NFL.

Senator: NFL Response to Ray Rice "Out of an Episode of 'Madmen'"

Sept. 17, 2014

A Senate Democrat is floating a proposal that could increase the government's leverage over the activities of professional sports leagues like the NFL.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Wednesday that he's planning legislation to impose a sunset on the antitrust exemptions enjoyed by the National Football League and the other pro sports. The former Connecticut attorney general called the response of the NFL to the domestic violence incident involving now-former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice something "right out of the 1950s, out of an episode of 'Madmen.'"

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