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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:

Enzi Hasn't Ruled Out Seeking Budget Gavel

Nov. 12, 2014

Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., hasn’t ruled out claiming his seniority on the Budget Committee and seeking the chairmanship against Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the panel’s current ranking member.

McConnell: Obama Acting Alone on Immigration 'Would Be a Big Mistake'

Nov. 12, 2014

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cautioned President Barack Obama Wednesday about taking widely expected unilateral moves on immigration while laying out agenda items for the lame-duck session.

“There’s a lot both parties can accomplish together over the next couple years. I hope that happens. I’m optimistic. But working together requires trust,” McConnell said on the floor. “I think President Obama has a duty to help build the trust we all need to move forward together, not to double-down on old ways of doing business.”

“That’s why I think moving forward with the unilateral action on immigration he’s planned would be a big mistake,” McConnell said.

Executive Action on Immigration Could Imperil Omnibus, Cornyn Warns (Video)

Nov. 12, 2014

The No. 2 Senate Republican said Wednesday that President Barack Obama’s plans to take executive action on immigration could endanger bipartisan efforts to craft an omnibus spending bill in the lame-duck session.

Visa Agreement With China Draws Senate Cheers

Nov. 11, 2014

The deal announced Monday that makes it easier for Chinese business people, tourists and students to stay in the United States longer won applause from senators on both sides of the aisle, especially Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Leahy Sticks With Judiciary, Supports Mikulski at Appropriations

Nov. 11, 2014

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy has put to rest any speculation that he might seek to assert seniority to become ranking member on the Appropriations Committee in the next Congress.

Could Obama-McConnell Liquor Choice Invite Look at Bourbon Laws?

Nov. 7, 2014

There was no sign of brown liquor President Barack Obama’s Friday lunch meeting with bipartisan political leaders, but the bourbon industry is using renewed attention to press its own lobbying interests.

Mitch McConnell's Republicans Face Governing Test

Nov. 6, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The next Senate majority leader is vowing a far more open chamber next year — one that works longer and doesn’t avoid tough votes. But it won’t be easy.

King Seeks Dealmaker Role in Reversed Senate, Stays in Democratic Caucus

Nov. 5, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Independent Maine Sen. Angus King is remaining in the Democratic caucus, but it’s clear he views himself as a bridge between the two sides.

After Catching a Wave, Senate Republicans Look to Legislate

Nov. 5, 2014

Having emerged from an Election Day that many Republicans only dreamed of, the Senate Republicans’ campaign chairman was already looking forward to a Senate starting to function again.

Rand Paul: Let D.C. Legalize Marijuana, If Voters Want

Nov. 4, 2014

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — As District of Columbia voters are seemingly poised to approve a ballot item to allow cultivation and possession of small quantities of marijuana for personal use, the Republican in charge of a subpanel with D.C. oversight says home rule should prevail.

McConnell Warns Senate Control Could Be Unclear Until January

Nov. 4, 2014

BOWLING GREEN, Ky., — At the end of a full day of flying around the Bluegrass State, Sen. Mitch McConnell presented the state of play on the national landscape like a prognosticator instead of a pol who holds the title of Senate minority leader.

McConnell Eyes the Prize as Grimes Hopes for Grand Upset (Updated)

Nov. 3, 2014

Updated 8:09 a.m., Nov. 4 | LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Standing in front of the Team Mitch bus in an airport hangar, former Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao proclaimed “I’m the proud wife of the next majority leader of the United States Senate.”

Hal Rogers Eager for Majority Leader McConnell

Nov. 3, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The man in charge of writing spending bills in the House sounds downright excited for the possibility of fellow Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell becoming Senate majority leader next year.

Reid: Iowa Loss Would Mean Republican Senate Majority (Updated)

Nov. 1, 2014

Updated 3:27 p.m., Nov. 1 | Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may have just unwittingly given Minority Leader McConnell something to smile about.

Rogers Begins Work on Possible Lame Duck Omnibus

Oct. 31, 2014

Away from the din of the campaign, House and Senate appropriations staffers are quietly laying the groundwork for an ambitious wrap-up spending package in the lame duck.

The Attack Ads Harry Reid Didn't Want You to See

Oct. 30, 2014

Harry Reid’s strategy of blocking amendments all year was intended with one clear objective in mind — protecting his majority.

Boehner, White House Spar Over 'Chickenshit' Comment

Oct. 29, 2014

The reported description of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “chickenshit” by a senior administration official has set off a rhetorical exchange between Speaker John A. Boehner and the White House.

McConnell: Obamacare Repeal Will Take 60 Votes (Updated)

Oct. 28, 2014

Updated 9:35 p.m. | Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans won’t be able to repeal Obamacare anytime soon.

Reid Returns to Washington, Daughter Undergoing Surgery

Oct. 28, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., unexpectedly returned to Washington from his home state due to a family emergency.

Ed Gillespie Throws 'Redskins' Hail Mary

Oct. 27, 2014

Virginia Senate candidate Ed Gillespie said in an ad airing during “Monday Night Football” that he would oppose legislation forcing the Washington Redskins to change the team name.

McConnell Brings Back the Bloodhounds for Closing Week in Kentucky (Video)

Oct. 27, 2014

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell is calling out the dogs — but this time there’s some fun involved.

Pete Rose Hustles Into Kentucky Senate Race

Oct. 27, 2014

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has taken a pass on making a call about one of America’s great sports controversies.

Vulnerable Senate Democrats Almost Always Voted With Obama

Oct. 27, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to avoid tough votes this year has backfired in one respect — it gave his vulnerable incumbents few opportunities to show off any independence from President Barack Obama.

Angus King Endorses Republican Senate Colleague

Oct. 24, 2014

Independent Maine Sen. Angus King, a member of the Democratic caucus, is backing a senior Senate Republican in his bid for re-election.

'Constructive Dialogue' Continues Over CIA Torture Report, White House Says

Oct. 22, 2014

Don’t expect the release of a Senate report on acts of torture committed by the CIA to become an uncomfortable election year October surprise.

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