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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:

Start Preparing Now for the Budget Vote-A-Rama

March 17, 2015

This night is not like all other nights.

A New Delay for Loretta Lynch? (Video)

March 15, 2015

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that he doesn’t plan on turning the Senate’s attention to the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as attorney general until resolving a stalemate over anti-human trafficking legislation.

Little Hope for Bipartisanship With Lynch, Budget Ahead

March 13, 2015

The sour start to the new Senate’s year appears likely to continue — with the unexpected partisan blowup over a human trafficking bill and its abortion provision seeming to end the last chance for a broad, bipartisan vote before the recess at the end of the month.

The Two Sides of Ron Johnson's Agenda

March 12, 2015

Sen. Ron Johnson said Thursday he doesn’t plan on holding “show trials” in his role as chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Ben Cardin Weighs in on Maryland Senate Race

March 12, 2015

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., pledged to remain “neutral” in the Democratic primary to succeed his retiring colleague, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.

In Senate Hallway, Tracker Presses Elizabeth Warren About Email (Video)

March 11, 2015

Sen. Elizabeth Warren didn’t respond to a question in a Dirksen hallway Wednesday related to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of personal email during her time as secretary of State.

Alaska, Hawaii Senators Seek Exemption From Higher Security Fees for Their States

March 11, 2015

Three senators from Alaska and Hawaii are pushing to exempt flights within their states from higher security fees.

Reid: No Amendments Until GOP Strips Abortion Language (Video) (Updated)

March 11, 2015

Updated 5:18 p.m. | Legislation to combat human trafficking appears sure to die on the Senate floor.

Senate Trio Launches Medical Marijuana Effort

March 10, 2015

It isn’t every day that a child can steal the show from three of the Senate’s most visible members.

Senate Democrats Cry Foul Over Abortion Language in Trafficking Bill

March 10, 2015

Senate Democrats slammed Republicans on Tuesday for abortion language included in an anit-human trafficking bill, which they claimed was added without their knowledge, while threatening to derail the ostensibly noncontroversial bill.

“We’re on the bill. And these provisions, my caucus did not know about them. You can blame it on staff, blame it on whoever you want to blame it on, but we didn’t know it was in the bill,” Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday. “The bill will not come off this floor as long as that language is in the bill.”

Cornyn: Senators Knew About Abortion Provisions in Trafficking Bill

March 10, 2015

Majority Whip John Cornyn on Tuesday pushed back against Senate Democrats who claimed they were unaware of language broadening the scope of the prohibition of federal funding on abortion, saying it was "untrue" Democrats were unaware of the language.

"Some of the suggestions being made now that there were provisions in the legislation that people didn’t know about are simply untrue. That presupposes that none of their staff briefed their senators on what was in the legislation, that nobody read a 68-page bill and that senators would vote for a bill, much less co-sponsor it without reading it, and knowing what’s in it,” Cornyn said. “None of that strikes me as plausible.”

Senate Faces Trust Breakdown Over Abortion (Updated) (Video)

March 10, 2015

Updated 6:12 p.m. | Abortion politics — and an emerging trust gap between Democrats and Republicans — threatened to derail the ostensibly noncontroversial human trafficking bill on the Senate floor Tuesday.

Reid: GOP's Iran Letter 'Empowers' Ayatollahs

March 9, 2015

With Sen. Tom Cotton presiding over the Senate, the chamber’s Democratic leaders lambasted the open letter the Arkansas Republican spearheaded with 46 other Republicans to the leadership of Iran.

Minority Leader Harry Reid criticized Cotton’s effort, noting the Republican had only served in the Senate for roughly two months before leading the letter and saying his Democrats did not take similar action during President Gorge W. Bush’s administration.

“When it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb, we should put partisanship way to one side. Sadly though, the judgment of my Republican colleagues seems to be clouded by their abhorrence of President [Barack] Obama,” Reid said. “Let’s be very clear: Republicans are undermining our commander-in-chief while empowering the ayatollahs.”

Republicans Not Rushing to Criticize Menendez

March 9, 2015

Sen. Mark S. Kirk became the latest Republican to suggest reports of corruption charges against Sen. Robert Menendez are the result of “politically motivated” leaks by the Justice Department.

Paul, Booker and Gillibrand Set to Unveil Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana

March 9, 2015

A bipartisan trio of senators has planned a Tuesday rollout for legislation to remove federal legal barriers to the use of medical marijuana.

Senate Schedule Changed After Iran Vote Delay

March 9, 2015

With the House out of town this week, the Senate will be the focal point on Capitol Hill, and there’s no shortage of activity ahead.

Joe Biden Plays a Home Game at Firefighters Conference

March 9, 2015

Decades ago, a young Democrat running for Senate said that in Delaware, there are really three political parties: “Democrats, Republicans and firefighters.”

Democrats Blast Cotton, GOP Over Open Letter to Iran (Video)

March 9, 2015

With Sen. Tom Cotton presiding over the Senate, the chamber’s Democratic leaders lambasted the open letter the Arkansas Republican spearheaded with 46 other Republicans to the leadership of Iran.

Menendez: 'I'm Not Going Anywhere' (Updated)

March 6, 2015

Updated 7:45 p.m. | Sen. Robert Menendez, who is likely to face federal corruption charges in the coming weeks according to multiple published reports, is gearing up for a battle with the Justice Department.

Lawmakers Decry ATF's Proposed AR-15 Bullet Restrictions

March 5, 2015

An Obama administration proposal to prohibit certain bullets has been raising the ire of lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week, with senators on Thursday joining calls for the executive branch to back down.

Senate Democrats Press McConnell to Schedule Lynch Confirmation Vote (Updated)

March 5, 2015

Updated 1:23 p.m. | Frustrated with the pace of Loretta Lynch’s confirmation process, Senate Democrats are ramping up pressure on Republicans to schedule floor consideration of the president’s pick to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

Shaheen Finds Her Groove in Successful DHS Funding Fight

March 5, 2015

Jeanne Shaheen didn’t have months to prepare for becoming the leading Democrat on Homeland Security spending. She didn’t get the chance to start the process at the beginning, with the president’s budget request and weeks of hearings.

Snowstorm Forecast No Match for Senate, House Resources Hearings

March 4, 2015

No, the Senate hearing about the Arctic, chaired by a senator from Alaska, won’t be cancelled due to a little snow.

McConnell Discourages States From Crafting Clean Power Plans

March 4, 2015

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is suggesting states shouldn’t act on their own to implement the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean power plans.

Rubio, Lee Unveil Tax Code Overhaul, Welcome Critics

March 4, 2015

Say this much about Sen. Marco Rubio: He’s not afraid to put ideas on the table.

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