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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:

Deal on Keystone Vote, Energy Efficiency Elusive in Senate

May 6, 2014

Talks between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appear to be at a standstill over an energy efficiency bill and holding a vote authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline.

Democrats have said they are willing to give Republicans a vote on a bipartisan proposal to bypass the president and authorize the controversial pipeline in exchange for passing the energy efficiency bill.

But in addition to a vote on Keystone, Republicans are asking for a vote on five energy-related amendments to the Shaheen-Portman bill, which Democrats have balked at.

Harry Reid Does Love His Earmarks (Video)

May 6, 2014

There aren’t many issues on which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid disagrees with President Barack Obama, but earmarking is one of them.

Top GOP Senators Call for VA Secretary Shinseki's Resignation

May 6, 2014

Top Senate Republicans called for new leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday.

"A change in leadership might be a good step in the right direction," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters in response to a question about whether he supported calls for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Minority Whip John Cornyn explicitly called for Shinseki to resign.

"I agree with the American Legion that Gen. Shinseki's time as Secretary of Veterans Affairs has come to an end, and he needs to step down," the Texas Republican said.

Post-Nuclear Senate: Rand Paul Can't Slow Nomination Tied to Drone Policy (Updated)

May 6, 2014

Updated 12:44 p.m. | If Harvard Law Professor David J. Barron fails to win confirmation as a federal appeals court judge, it won’t be because he was “blocked” by Sen. Rand Paul.

Reid Defends Veterans Affairs Secretary Amid Calls for Resignation

May 6, 2014

Majority Leader Harry Reid deflected Senate Republican calls on Tuesday for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, to resign.

"This is the same guy that was ordered to step down [from the U.S. Army] when he said we would need more troops in Iraq. He was fired there. He is a fine man. He's a disabled veteran from the Vietnam conflict," the Nevada Democrat said. "The issue that came up in Phoenix, these are allegations and there will be a complete investigation of that that's gone on."

GOP Like 'Greased Pigs' on Energy Efficiency Bill, Reid Says (Video)

May 6, 2014

The bipartisan energy efficiency bill that the Senate has debated on-and-off since last year is once again on the verge of becoming the punchline of a bad joke.

GOP Like 'Greased Pigs' on Energy Efficiency Bill, Reid Says

May 6, 2014

The bipartisan energy efficiency bill that the Senate has debated on and off since last year is once again on the verge of becoming the punchline of a bad joke.

During his opening remarks Tuesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid compared trying to reach an amendment agreement on the pending bill to children trying to catch a greased pig.

"Oft times, working with my Senate Republican colleagues reminds me of chasing one of these little pigs in a greased pig contest. Regardless of all efforts, any time we get close to making progress, it stands as though we watch it slip out of our hands, and the Republicans scamper away," the Nevada Democrat said.

Top GOP Senators Call for Shinseki's Ouster (Video)

May 6, 2014

Top Senate Republicans are calling for new leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Legislative Prayer Wins Broad Endorsement From Supreme Court

May 5, 2014

When the Senate returned Monday afternoon, it opened with a customary prayer by Chaplain Barry Black.

Democrats Plan Push to Refinance Student Loans (Updated)

May 5, 2014

Updated 11:15 a.m. | Senate Democrats are preparing a new push to refinance student loans and cut the costs of college as the latest plank in their election-year agenda — and are talking compromise on a minimum wage hike.

Oberstar, Longtime Congressman and Transportation Expert, Dead at 79

May 3, 2014

Former Rep. James L. Oberstar, a fixture on Capitol Hill for decades, has died, according to local media reports and members of the Minnesota delegation. He was 79.

Republican Wants to Revive Earmarks — With Transparency (Updated)

May 2, 2014

Updated 10:01 p.m. | A Republican appropriator on Friday called for reviving congressional earmarks so lawmakers can use the power of the purse — but wants it to be transparent.

Hoeven Predicts Keystone Vote Even if Energy Efficiency Bill Falters

May 2, 2014

A top advocate for approving the Keystone XL pipeline project predicts the Senate will vote on it next week even if a bipartisan energy efficiency bill gets derailed.

Inhofe: Botched Oklahoma Execution Shouldn't Change Death Penalty

April 30, 2014

Sen. James M. Inhofe doesn’t have much sympathy for the man who died after a bungled execution attempt on Tuesday, and doesn’t think it should lead to a change in the death penalty.

Landrieu, Vitter Playing Key Roles in Keystone XL Pipeline Standoff

April 30, 2014

Many eyes will be on Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Mary L. Landrieu as the Senate gears up for another debate over the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada.

Senate Will Vote on Campaign Finance Constitutional Amendment, Schumer Says

April 30, 2014

Senate Democrats plan to vote to amend the Constitution to upend recent Supreme Court decisions tossing federal laws restricting campaign contributions.

GOP Filibusters Minimum Wage Hike (Updated)

April 30, 2014

Updated 12:55 p.m. | GOP senators blocked a Democrat-led effort to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour on Wednesday — although Democrats said they planned to bring the issue up again and some in both parties called for a compromise.

Louisana Republicans Push 'Hold' on Burwell Nomination

April 29, 2014

Five House Republicans from Louisiana want to see the state’s Senate delegation try to delay confirmation of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be Health and Human Services secretary until they get assurances about equitable enforcement of health care law provisions.

Reid: Koch Brothers Aren't Interested In Unemployment Extension, Minimum Wage

April 28, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid launched a new assault on the Koch brothers, blaming them for House Republicans’ not passing an extension of unemployment benefits, a minimum wage hike or other parts of the Democratic agenda.

John McCain Laughs at Ted Cruz

April 28, 2014

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has sparred recently with his longtime colleague John Kerry, but dismissed Sen. Ted Cruz’s suggestion Monday that the secretary of state should resign over his reportedly saying Israel was headed toward being an “apartheid” state.

RNC Petition Backs Ron Johnson's Member/Staffer Health Care Lawsuit

April 28, 2014

Sen. Ron Johnson’s lawsuit challenging the legality of federal contributions to the health care plans of members of Congress and congressional staffers has a new ally: the Republican National Committee.

Beer Taxes, Regs a Bipartisan Issue

April 27, 2014

Fighting beer regulations and taxes has brought members of both parties together.

FDA E-Cig Regulations Disappoint Democrats, Cheer Industry

April 24, 2014

Several Democratic lawmakers who have pushed for the FDA to draft e-cig regulations to treat the electronic cigarettes like their traditional counterparts aren’t happy.

Paul, Gillibrand Represent the Senate on Time's '100 Most Influential'

April 24, 2014

Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., aren’t very much alike, but in Time magazine’s view, they’re among the 100 most influential people.

Durbin Tweets Happy Birthday to Wrigley Field — Doesn't Mention the Lights

April 23, 2014

The celebration of Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday wouldn’t be complete without hearing from the senior senator from Illinois.

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