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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:

Graham, Cantwell Threaten Trade Deal Over Ex-Im Bank

May 19, 2015

With the Export-Import Bank’s charter set to expire at the end of June, Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., made a last-minute push on the floor Tuesday to include a reauthorization vote as part of any "fast-track” trade agreement, threatening to derail a trade deal Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has carefully managed over the past two weeks.

“My colleagues and I who support the Ex-Im Bank reauthorization, which is the majority in both the House and the Senate, have lost their patience with the ability to get this Bank before the Senate and before the House before that June 30 deadline,” Cantwell said. “So I have no compulsion at this moment to say that I don’t support moving forward on the cloture motion until we get an understanding of how this bank is going to be reauthorized.”

McConnell, who earlier in the day said he planned to schedule floor debate and a vote on Ex-Im, just not as an amendment to Trade Promotion Authority legislation, filed cloture on “fast-track” measures, setting up a vote on the package Thursday morning.

Senator Obama vs. President Obama on Trade

May 19, 2015

Not long after the administration went public with a veto threat against his currency manipulation trade amendment, Sen. Rob Portman took to the floor to highlight President Barack Obama’s flip-flop on the issue.

McConnell Sets Trade Promotion Authority Endgame in Motion (Video)

May 19, 2015

After a series of dueling objections, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved Tuesday evening to limit debate on the Trade Promotion Authority bill that’s a top priority for himself and President Barack Obama, but the endgame was far from clear.

Mike Lee Takes Town Halls to YouTube, Ustream

May 19, 2015

About once a month, Sen. Mike Lee’s Capitol Hill office turns into a television studio.

Plenty to Navigate to Get 'Fast Track' Through Senate (Updated) (Video)

May 19, 2015

Updated 6:21 p.m. | The pathway to Senate passage of legislation to restore “fast-track” authority for trade authority is full of obstacles, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to avoid any more.

Next Yucca Mountain Debate Will Wait for the Floor

May 19, 2015

The Senate’s next big battle over funding for nuclear waste storage in Nevada will wait for the floor.

Scott Walker to Meet and Greet Congress Tuesday (Updated)

May 18, 2015

Updated May 19, 9:55 a.m. | When you’re a Midwestern governor pondering a presidential campaign as a Washington outsider, there are plenty of people to meet on Capitol Hill.

Rand Paul Says He Has Votes 'Outside the Beltway' on NSA Surveillance

May 18, 2015

PHILADELPHIA — Standing on the lawn outside the landmark where the framers debated the Constitution, Sen. Rand Paul launched his newest Fourth Amendment campaign.

McConnell Shrugs Off Paul's NSA Surveillance Filibuster

May 17, 2015

The split in the Kentucky Senate delegation over the government’s surveillance powers was on full display again Sunday on the morning news programs.

Rand Paul's NSA Filibuster Vow Complicates Senate's Memorial Day Getaway

May 17, 2015

The Senate is supposed to be finishing up a six-week work period, but would lawmakers really leave for the Memorial Day recess without resolving the debate over National Security Agency surveillance?

Schumer Rebuts Boehner, Ties Amtrak Funding to Crash

May 14, 2015

The top Senate Democrat from Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor says Speaker John A. Boehner is denying facts about the circumstances of Tuesday evening’s crash outside Philadelphia.

Shaken By Amtrak Derailment, Carper Plans Hospital Visit

May 13, 2015

Sen. Thomas R. Carper has seen many mangled trains in his life, but the derailment Tuesday of Amtrak 188 in Northeast Philadelphia was particularly personal.

Senate Intelligence Chairman Blasts House's NSA Surveillance Overhaul

May 13, 2015

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee says the bill passed overwhelmingly Wednesday by the House overhauling National Security Agency surveillance is no better than letting the Patriot Act provisions expire at the end of the month.

The Rubio Doctrine

May 13, 2015

When Sen. Marco Rubio speaks Wednesday afternoon in New York, he has the opportunity to offer his foreign policy vision to an audience of foreign affairs experts who might have some biting questions.

Obama Tries to Revive Fast-Track Trade Bill After 'SNAFU' (Updated) (Video)

May 12, 2015

Updated 7:52 p.m. | President Barack Obama — and Senate Democratic leaders — are working to resurrect his trade agenda, according to aides on the Hill and in the administration.

McCain Joins Flake in Blasting 'Paid-For Patriotism' in NFL, Other Sports (Video)

May 12, 2015

John McCain joined Jeff Flake Tuesday in ripping arrangements in which the Pentagon paid NFL and other sports teams for displays of patriotism, and said he intends to wield his Armed Services gavel to take aim at the practice.

Coons Knows Manufacturing Push Needs GOP Support

May 11, 2015

Sen. Chris Coons has started a matchmaking service.

Behind a Resolution, a Story About a Stroke

May 8, 2015

Members of Congress introduce resolutions all the time expressing support for one cause or another that get little or no attention, but the truth is that they all have back stories.

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Iran Bill; Boehner Looks to House Action (Updated)

May 7, 2015

Updated 3:52 p.m. | After a few false starts, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to give Congress a say in a final international agreement with Iran on nuclear development.

Paul's Anti-NSA Push Is at Odds With McConnell's Agenda (Updated) (Video)

May 7, 2015

Updated 12:34 p.m. | Sen. Rand Paul is calling the debate on an issue that puts him at odds with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “a defining moment for our country.”

Reid, Durbin Slam GOP Budget

May 5, 2015

Ahead of a vote on a fiscal 2016 budget resolution Tuesday, Democratic leaders hammered the spending blueprint they said creates long-term consequences and creates unworkable caps for the appropriations process.

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin echoed a challenge issued by Sen. Charles E. Schumer for the Republicans to advance spending bills at the agreed-upon levels.

“Let’s see if the 23, 24 Republican senators up for re-election this time really want to run on this platform,” said Durbin, adding that the GOP budget identified winners and losers, the real winners being those getting estate tax relief. “4,000 Americans who have an estate worth at least $10 million are the winners. They’re each going to win about $3 million in tax relief from the Republican budget.”

Wicker Pledges GOP Will Adhere to Strict Spending Limits (Video)

May 5, 2015

As the Senate was preparing to finalize the fiscal 2016 budget resolution, both sides seem to want the spending blueprint to be an election issue next year.

Reid Threatens to Short-Circuit Trade Bill (Video)

May 5, 2015

Does Minority Leader Harry Reid have the votes to throw a monkey wrench into President Barack Obama’s trade agenda?

George Mitchell Tells His Favorite Tales in New Memoir

May 5, 2015

Not long after George J. Mitchell gave up a federal judgeship in Maine for an appointment to the Senate, he found himself sleeping on a cot.

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