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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:

Reid Says White House Did Not Violate Law in Bergdahl Prisoner Exchange

June 3, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he was informed by the White House one day before the May 31 swap of five Taliban detainees in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, later adding the exchange did not violate the law.

"I've been told no, he did not violate the law," the Nevada Democrat said in a response to a question about a 30-day statutory notification requirement. "In my own personal opinion, Guantánamo has been there far too long, and I think we should get them out of there as quick as we can. We've been held up from doing that by the Republicans not wanting them, any of them to be tried here in the United States."

Key Senators Contest Notification of Bergdahl-Taliban Swap (Video)

June 3, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that he got a heads up from the White House about the May 31 swap that led to five Taliban detainees being sent to Qatar in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Dole, Harkin Renew Disability Treaty Push After SCOTUS Decision

June 3, 2014

Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole is making another push for ratification of the U.N. disabilities treaty.

Remembering Frank Lautenberg, One Year Later

June 3, 2014

It has now been one year since the Senate lost its last sitting member to serve in World War II.

Boehner Backs Hearings on Bergdahl Swap for 'Taliban 5'

June 3, 2014

Updated 4:11 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner charged the Obama administration with intentially keeping the swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban officials from Congress ahead of time and backed a push for hearings by Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon Tuesday.

Carney 2013 Statement: No Detainee Transfer 'Without Consulting With Congress'

June 3, 2014

Amid charges from Speaker John A. Boehner that the Obama administration intentionally kept the swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban officials from Congress, new criticism emerged regarding a statement last year by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

When asked by NBC News' Kristen Welker about the potential of exchanging the five officials for Bergdahl on June 21, 2013, Carney said the White House would follow the law and consult with Congress before making any decisions.

"We would not make any decisions about transfer of any detainees without consulting with Congress," Carney said. "At this time we’ve made no decisions about the transfer of detainees. And in accordance with law, we would be consulting with Congress should we make any decisions about that ... [but] on these specific issues about individual detainees, that would be a process that is done in accordance with law."

Mikulski Would Like Appropriations Bills Bundled Into 'Mini or Maxi' Buses

June 2, 2014

The Senate Appropriations chairwoman is interested in seeing spending bills bundled together for floor consideration.

VA Bills Face Familiar Senate Gauntlet (Video)

June 2, 2014

The Senate’s efforts to address the scandal rocking the Department of Veterans Affairs could run headlong into the chamber’s usual gridlock and partisan politics.

Ethics Complaint Over Attacks on Koch Brothers Won't Silence Harry Reid

June 2, 2014

Not long after the head of the Tea Party Patriots filed an ethics complaint against Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader’s office accused that group of doing the bidding of the Koch brothers.

Sanders Unveils Emergency VA Measure, Could Soon Hit Senate Floor (Video)

June 1, 2014

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernard Sanders on Sunday unveiled his plan for emergency legislation to address the scandal that’s enveloped the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Reid, McConnell to Testify at Campaign Finance First Amendment Hearing

May 31, 2014

Next week’s Senate Judiciary hearing on campaign finance and the First Amendment will be getting some extra firepower.

Senate Appropriators Plan Funds for DOJ Probe of VA

May 30, 2014

The Senate’s top appropriators plan to provide resources for the Justice Department to investigate the health scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Orrin Hatch, Mike Lee Diverge on Gay Marriage's Fate in Court

May 29, 2014

A former Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is calling legal gay marriage inevitable, while his home-state colleague is not so sure.

Justice Department Already Involved in VA Scandal

May 29, 2014

An increasing number of lawmakers have called for a federal criminal probe of misconduct at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, but at some level, federal prosecutors are already involved.

In VA Scandal, More Senators Call for Shinseki Ouster, FBI Investigation (Updated)

May 28, 2014

Updated 5:47 p.m. | The snowball of senators and Senate candidates calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign turned into an avalanche Wednesday afternoon.

Vietnam Veterans Group Joins Outrage Over Burr's VA Letter

May 27, 2014

A group representing veterans from the Vietnam War has joined several other organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, in blasting Sen. Richard M. Burr’s recent open letter to veterans.

White House Counsel to Review Naming of CIA Chief in Kabul

May 27, 2014

The White House will conduct an internal review of the circumstances leading to Sunday’s disclosure to members of the White House press corps of the identity of a CIA station chief.

Obama Plans to Keep Troops in Afghanistan Until 2016 (Updated) (Video)

May 27, 2014

Updated 3:26 p.m. | President Barack Obama announced Tuesday he intends to keep thousands of troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014, but would pull out most of the remaining forces by the end of 2016.

Schumer's Newest Foe: 'Phrostee' Alcoholic Slushy Drink (Video)

May 27, 2014

Sen. Charles E. Schumer is once again going after the marketing of an alcoholic beverage to children.

Burr: VFW, DAV More Outraged by Letter Than by VA Scandal

May 25, 2014

The Memorial Day weekend sparring between veterans groups and the top Republican on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in the wake of the VA scandal is continuing.

Sanders to Introduce New VA Accountability Bill

May 23, 2014

The chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee appears to be rejecting a House-passed bill that would grant authority to the VA secretary to fire a variety of senior officials.

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.

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