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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:

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.

Reid Sets Barron Vote After Meeting With White House Lawyers, Paul Plans Filibuster (Updated)

May 15, 2014

Updated 5:50 p.m. | The Senate’s set to vote next week on a federal appeals court nominee who played a key role in the Obama administrations’s drone policy.

Shinseki Faces Barrage at Veterans Affairs Committee, Won't Resign (Video)

May 15, 2014

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki faced a barrage of bipartisan outrage Thursday morning, with senators from both parties pointing to systemic problems at the department he manages.

Veterans Affairs Head Will Not Resign

May 15, 2014

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki faced a barrage of bipartisan outrage Thursday morning, with senators from both parties pointing to systemic problems at the department he manages. But when asked by Nevada Republican Dean Heller why he shouldn’t resign, the secretary said his post was not a job, but a mission.

"I came here to make things better for veterans," Shinseki said. "We're not done yet, and I intend to continue this mission until I've satisfied either that goal or I'm told by the Commander-in-Chief that my time has been served."

Reid Opposes Boggs Nomination for Now, Will Consult John Lewis

May 14, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that “unless I’m convinced otherwise,” he will oppose confirmation of Michael P. Boggs to be a federal judge in Georgia.

Democrats Plan Student Loan Push in June

May 14, 2014

Senate Democrats plan to make their new push on student loan interest rates shortly after the Memorial Day recess.

Democrats Hint DOJ Misled Court on Surveillance

May 13, 2014

Two Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are blasting the Obama administration for potentially misleading the Supreme Court about the scope of surveillance activities back in 2012.

Medical Device Tax Repeal Vote Sought by GOP

May 13, 2014

Republicans are eager to attach a repeal of a medical device surtax to the tax cut extension package on the Senate floor, but the chamber's top Democrat seems to have no appetite for it.

Sen. John Barrasso discussed the tax both at a Republican leadership media availability and again shortly thereafter with a smaller group of reporters.

"The Democrats will have an opportunity this week on the floor of the Senate to deal with jobs, the economy and the devastating side effects of the health care law," the Wyoming Republican said. "I think it's time to actually take a look at the medical device tax and truly putting forth, in a vote, an opportunity to eliminate the medical device tax."

While Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would not speculate on how his members might vote, the prospects for the underlying tax cut bill passing the Senate without amendments seemed dubious.

"The bill does enjoy support. It is always our hope to have amendments," the Kentucky Republican said, adding that he would not prognosticate about what might happen if Reid blocks amendments.

Reid: 'I'm Not Going To Cry Any Big Tears' Over Medical Device Tax

May 13, 2014

Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday rebuked Republicans eager to attach a repeal of a medical device surtax to the tax cut extension package on the Senate floor.

"I'm not going to cry any big tears over the device folks," Reid told reporters at Democrats weekly news conference. "Their profits were huge last year."

Reid Hopes for Senate Vote on Barron Nomination 'Soon' (Video)

May 13, 2014

Senators could soon face a vote on Harvard Law Professor David J. Barron — the author of legal opinions backing the Obama administration’s drone policy — to be a federal appeals court judge.

Reid Hopes for Senate Vote on Barron Nomination 'Soon'

May 13, 2014

Senators could soon face a vote on Harvard Law Professor David J. Barron — the author of legal opinions backing the Obama administration’s drone policy — to be a federal appeals court judge.

“I’m going to try to do it soon,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday. ”We got some complaints yesterday, people hadn’t had the time to go downstairs and spend a half hour reading the memos. So I’m sure that they, if they need more time, we’ll get ‘em more time.”

Medical Device Tax Repeal Vote Sought by GOP (Video)

May 13, 2014

Republicans are eager to attach a repeal of a medical device surtax to the tax cut extension package on the Senate floor, but the chamber’s top Democrat seems to have no appetite for it.

Tax Bill Highlights Split Between Grover Norquist, Club for Growth

May 12, 2014

The tax-cut-extension bill set for the Senate floor this week highlights a longstanding fissure between Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and the Club for Growth.

Democrats Not Cheering Walsh Proposal for Budget Balance Before Recess

May 12, 2014

Sen. John Walsh’s proposal to cancel recesses until adopting a budget resolution that balances the books by 2024 isn’t exactly getting endorsements.

Schatz Defends East-West Center From Ted Cruz, Pigs

May 12, 2014

A senator is vocally contesting the inclusion of a project in his home state in the 2014 ”Congressional Pig Book.”

Manchin Mourns Mother's Death

May 12, 2014

Sen. Joe Manchin III is mourning the death of his mother, just a day after Mother’s Day.

David Vitter's Beef With the NFL

May 9, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid isn’t the only senator who has a beef with National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Will Obama Threaten to Veto Senate’s Tax-Cut Bill?

May 9, 2014

Defying the White House and a yearslong push for more revenue, Senate Democrats are on the verge of passing an $85 billion grab bag of tax cuts with no plans to pay for them.

Democratic Senator Proposes Banning Recess Until Congress Adopts Balanced Budget

May 8, 2014

Freshman Sen. John Walsh introduced a bill Thursday that would block congressional recesses until there’s an agreement on a budget resolution that balances within a decade.

Keystone Talks Fail; Reid Blocks GOP Energy Amendments

May 7, 2014

Updated 3:58 p.m. | Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid moved to block Republican energy amendments Wednesday, likely dooming an energy efficiency bill and a separate vote approving the Keystone XL pipeline.

Rand Paul Holding Up Tax Treaties With Switzerland, Other Countries

May 7, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul is blocking quick action on a number of tax treaties, including with Switzerland, citing concerns about the privacy rights of Americans with foreign bank accounts.

In Midst of Earmark Discussion, Group Releases Pig Book, Live Pigs

May 7, 2014

There sure has been a lot of talk about pork this week.

Reid: Obama is 'Wrong' on Earmarks

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.

"I have been a fan of earmarks since I got here the first day," the Nevada Democrat said Tuesday afternoon. "Keep in mind, that's what the country has done for more than 200 years, except for the brief period of time in recent years that we haven't done these," Reid said. "I think it is wrong. I disagree — underline, underscore, big exclamation marks — with Obama on earmarks. He's wrong."

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