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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:

Senate Votes on Full DHS Funding, With House Set to Punt (Updated)

Feb. 27, 2015

Updated 12:39 p.m. | The Senate did its best to wrap up the current year’s funding debate, even as the House is opting for another punt.

McConnell's Move to Avert Shutdown Cheers Vulnerable Senators Up in 2016

Feb. 26, 2015

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is always looking ahead to the next election.

GOP Leadership Floats 3 More Weeks of DHS Funding (Video)

Feb. 26, 2015

House Republican leadership plans to move forward with another stopgap spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security, in a move sure to draw additional criticism from Democrats.

Strong Leaving the Senate, Heading to Wisconsin for Walker

Feb. 26, 2015

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s political operation has lured one of the top Republican communicators in the Senate away from the chamber.

Dick Durbin Touts 25th Anniversary of Airplane Smoking Ban

Feb. 25, 2015

Everyone who flies on a commercial airliner has heard the announcement that tampering with an airplane's lavatory smoke detector is a federal offense.

But as Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin reminded the Senate, until 25 years ago today it was legal to light up cigarettes on short-haul flights. As a House member, the Illinois Democrat had championed the ban, joining with the late Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., on an effort that earned plaudits in no shortage of Lautenberg obituaries.

"My staff thought I was crazy," Durbin said of the effort. "No one had ever beaten the tobacco lobby at anything."

But when it came to smoking on airplanes, Durbin, Lautenberg and their supporters ultimately prevailed, as of 25 years ago today, and as Durbin said on the floor it was the first of many prohibitions on smoking indoors or in confined spaces that have taken place since then.

Durbin Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Airplane Smoking Ban

Feb. 25, 2015

Everyone who flies on a commercial airliner has heard the announcement that tampering with an airplane’s lavatory smoke detector is a federal offense.

Kaine Won't Attend Netanyahu Speech

Feb. 25, 2015

Sen. Tim Kaine is the latest Democrat to announce he will not attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint meeting of Congress next week.

Corker, Menendez on Bipartisan Campaign to End Modern-Day Slavery

Feb. 24, 2015

The leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are pushing for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to rally behind an international effort to raise $1.5 billion to end slavery around the globe.

McConnell Offers Standalone Bill Blocking Obama's Immigration Actions

Feb. 23, 2015

Just days from a shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has begun to pivot toward a new strategy to separate funding for the Department of Homeland Security from the GOP’s plan to roll back President Barack Obama’s immigration actions.

The Kentucky Republican offered a standalone bill focused on the immigration actions alone after Democrats filibustered for a fourth time the House-passed DHS bill, this time on a 47-46 vote, 13 shy of the 60 needed to advance.

“It isn’t tied to DHS funding. It removes their excuse,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor. “This is our colleagues’ chance to do exactly what they led their constituents to believe they’d do: defend the rule of law, without more excuses.”

McConnell Offers Plan to Break DHS Logjam

Feb. 23, 2015

Updated 7 p.m. | Just days from a shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has begun to pivot toward a new strategy to separate funding for the Department of Homeland Security from the GOP’s plan to roll back President Barack Obama’s immigration actions.

Senate Democrats Show Limits of GOP Spending Strategy

Feb. 23, 2015

When Republican leaders seized control of the Senate, they quickly targeted must-pass appropriations bills — not shutdown showdowns — as their best tool for reining in the Obama White House.

Warren Joining Obama for Retirement Security Push

Feb. 23, 2015

President Barack Obama will be making a public push to strengthen the regulation of financial advisers who provide advice about saving for retirement.

Rand Paul's Twitter Needs a Legal Lesson

Feb. 20, 2015

Sen. Rand Paul’s Twitter feed has gotten ahead of itself.

Wisconsin GOP Files Ethics Complaint Against Baldwin (Updated)

Feb. 19, 2015

Updated 1:59 p.m. | The Wisconsin Republican Party wants the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the termination of Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s deputy state director.

Hawaii Internment Camp Monument a Legacy of Akaka, Inouye

Feb. 18, 2015

Thursday’s expected announcement from President Barack Obama that the Honouliuli internment camp will become a national monument will bring to fruition an effort that dates to Hawaii’s former senators.

Democrats Escape Cold, Spend Part of Recess in Cuba

Feb. 17, 2015

Democrats from both sides of the Capitol have been spending parts of their Presidents Day recess in Cuba as relations between the communist nation and the United States begin to thaw.

Odd Couples Push Criminal Justice Overhauls (Updated)

Feb. 12, 2015

Updated 3:41 p.m. | John Cornyn and Sheldon Whitehouse. Mike Lee and Richard J. Durbin. Rand Paul and Harry Reid.

Senate GOP Pamphlet Touts Continued Fight on DHS Spending

Feb. 12, 2015

Senate Republicans are being sent home for recess with a message touting their persistence on funding homeland security while blocking President Barack Obama’s executive actions.

After Another Eye Surgery, Reid Due Back After Recess (Updated)

Feb. 12, 2015

Updated 3:18 p.m. | Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is next expected back at the Capitol when the Senate reconvenes after the Presidents Day recess.

White House Sends ISIS AUMF to Capitol Hill

Feb. 11, 2015

The White House has now transmitted draft language to Capitol Hill proposing a three-year Authorization for the Use of Military Force against the terror group known as ISIS, setting off what is expected to be a contentious debate about the terms of the authorization.

Reid on Bob Packwood Return: 'No Need to Pile On'

Feb. 10, 2015

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said he did not want to denigrate former Sen. Bob Packwood when asked about his return to Capitol Hill Tuesday. The Oregon Republican, who resigned amid a sexual harrasment scandal in 1995, returned Tuesday to testify before the Senate Finance Committee.

“I don’t know who invited him, but you know I don’t make that decision," Reid said. "I — maybe I would have made a different decision, but there’s no need to pile on. He’s already been punished.”

House Says, Senate Says: GOP Split on Next DHS Move (Updated)

Feb. 10, 2015

Updated 3:28 p.m. | When it comes to Department of Homeland Security funding, the ball is still in the Senate’s court, according to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Packwood Returns to Talk Taxes, Not Scandal (Updated)

Feb. 10, 2015

Updated 3:17 p.m. | The Finance Committee was in a mood to reminisce Tuesday morning about the good old days, when Sen. Bob Packwood played a key role in negotiating a bipartisan overhaul of the tax code.

Sessions Blasts 'Activist Judiciary' on Gay Marriage in Alabama

Feb. 9, 2015

An Alabama senator is decrying a federal court ruling effectively legalizing gay marriage in his state, after the Supreme Court declined to block it.

Republicans Want to Send Message to SCOTUS on Obamacare

Feb. 9, 2015

Senate Republicans want to send a message to the Supreme Court that it’s OK to undermine Obamacare.

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