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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:

Judge Orders Conyers on Primary Ballot (Updated)

May 23, 2014

Updated 4:47 p.m. | A federal judge has ruled that 25-term Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr. shall appear on his party’s Aug. 5 primary ballot.

Mikulski Concerned by National Weather Service IT Failure

May 23, 2014

Thursday’s National Weather Service computer outage has the attention of the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senate Bill Puts Guantanamo on Path to Close

May 22, 2014

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted Thursday to give President Barack Obama the authority to close the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, unless veto-proof majorities in Congress object.

Reid Signals Quick Action as Appropriators Back VA Firing Authority

May 22, 2014

Updated 2 p.m. | Senate Appropriators have signaled bipartisan support for granting the secretary of Veterans Affairs authority to terminate senior personnel for poor performance, and the Senate’s top Democrat is open to it, as well.

McConnell Returns to Capitol, Makes 2014 GOP Unity Pitch

May 21, 2014

A routine media stakeout in the Ohio Clock Corridor on the second floor of the Capitol took on a decidedly campaign feel as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell returned to D.C. after a primary victory back home.

The Kentucky Republican said Wednesday that after the last few elections, Republicans are growing unified as they head into November following a series of primary victories for the establishment Tuesday night.

In Wake of VA Scandal, McCain Proposes Private Health Option for Veterans

May 21, 2014

Sen. John McCain accused President Barack Obama of attempting “damage control” Wednesday when he made a statement about the a scandal at the VA involving allegations of manipulated wait time reports.

McConnell Returns to Capitol, Makes 2014 GOP Unity Pitch (Video)

May 21, 2014

A routine media stakeout in the Ohio Clock Corridor on the second floor of the Capitol took on a decidedly campaign feel as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell returned to D.C. after a primary victory back home.

Paul, Wyden Clash Over Barron Nomination, Use of Drones Abroad

May 21, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul contested the nomination of David J. Barron to be a First Circuit appeals court judge as well as the Obama administration's use of drones for targeted killings of Americans during a 31-minute floor speech Wednesday.

The Kentucky Republican faced an objection to a unanimous consent request to delay Barron's confirmation, and following Paul's morning remarks Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., took the floor in support of Barron while criticizing the Obama administration for its resistance to providing Congress with memos outlining its legal basis for carrying out acts of war.

"It's unfortunate that it took Mr. Barron's nomination for the Justice Department to make these memos public," Wyden said. "I believe that every American has the right to know when their government believes it is allowed to kill them."

The Senate later voted to limit debate on Barron's nomination to a seat on the Boston-based court, 52-43.

Paul: McConnell Win 'Consistent With the Tea Party'

May 21, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul is dismissing the idea that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Republican primary victory in Kentucky Tuesday night was a defeat for the tea party movement.

Paul Predicts Democrats Will Back Barron, Doesn't Plan Extended Speech (Updated) (Video)

May 21, 2014

Updated 3:15 p.m. | Sen. Rand Paul wore comfortable shoes to work today, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to hold the floor for hours.

Reid: No Obamacare Amendments on Tax Cut Bill

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.

"That's an Obamacare amendment. We're not going to do that. [Republicans] can have as many amendments as practical to change the bill that's on the floor, and there's plenty of amendments that need to be offered on that. We have a lot on our side," the Nevada Democrat said. "So, the answer is 'no'."

When Could the Senate Debate the VA Scandal? (Video)

May 20, 2014

Senators have begun to talk about legislation designed to help remedy the controversy engulfing the Department of Veterans Affairs, but it isn’t immediately clear when they might have a venue for that debate.

Reid Open to VA Amendments on Defense Bill

May 20, 2014

As Senators begin to discuss legislation designed to remedy the controversy engulfing the Department of Veterans Affairs, it isn't immediately clear when they might have a venue for that debate.

On Tuesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Senate would not legislate on the fiscal 2015 Military Construction-VA spending bill, but then volunteered that a VA health debate might happen in connection with the defense authorization bill, which is currently being marked up by the Armed Services Committee.

"We would be happy to try to working something out on the authorization, which my understanding is that Sen. Levin's going to work on that again this week, hopefully report it out really soon," Reid said, referring to Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich.

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 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.

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: 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.

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."

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.

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.

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 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.

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