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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:

Inhofe Holds Up Ebola Funding, Seeks Details on Protecting Soldiers (Updated)

Sept. 26, 2014

Updated 3:55 p.m.| Senate Armed Services ranking member James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., is holding up most of a $1 billion request from the White House to combat the Ebola virus outbreak in Africa until the administration proposes a plan to keep soldiers from contracting the illness.

McConnell, Grimes Split on Marijuana Legalization Debate

Sept. 26, 2014

The national discussion about legalizing marijuana has now surfaced in Kentucky’s Senate race.

Ginsburg Won't Resign, Notes Senate Kept Filibuster for SCOTUS Despite 'Nuclear Option'

Sept. 23, 2014

Ruth Bader Ginsburg sounds like she might have retired from the Supreme Court if Senate Democrats went a step further with the “nuclear option.”

McConnell Asks Medicare to Help Detect Lung Cancer in Smokers

Sept. 22, 2014

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wants Medicare to do more for early detection of lung cancer, a particularly pronounced issue in Kentucky.

Barbara Boxer Blasts NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's News Conference in New Letter (Video)

Sept. 22, 2014

Sen. Barbara Boxer is making a personal appeal to the new National Football League executive in charge of government affairs, calling for more action to address domestic violence.

Before Approving ISIS War, Menendez Wants Intelligence Briefing (Video)

Sept. 22, 2014

The senator leading a push to authorize the war against ISIS after the elections wants an intelligence briefing first, so lawmakers know the full extent of the covert operations already under way.

Rand Paul Lambasts White House, Congress for Arming Syrian Rebels

Sept. 19, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., slammed the Obama administration and Congress Thursday for waging a "dishonest" war in Syria based on the 2001 AUMF.

"Listen carefully: Your representatives are sending $500 million to people who will tactically ally with al-Qaida," Paul said. "We voted to go to war in Afghanistan and I supported going into that war because we were attacked and we had to do something about it. But the thing is, that vote had nothing to do with this. Absolutely nothing to do with this. You are a dishonest person if you say otherwise."

The Senate later passed a continuing resolution 78-22, funding the government through Dec. 11 and arming and training Syrian rebels to fight the terror group ISIS.

Senate Republicans Pass Out Campaign Talking Points

Sept. 18, 2014

Senate Republicans are being sent home for election season with a tri-fold card that provides talking points on health care, taxes, the economy — even Senate procedure.

Senate Votes to Fund Syrian Rebels Against ISIS, Avert Government Shutdown (Updated) (Video)

Sept. 18, 2014

Updated 6:50 p.m. | After some last-minute drama on immigration, the Senate took care of Congress’ last must-pass piece of business before the November elections — keeping the government funded and providing authority for arming and training Syrian rebels in the fight against the terror group known as ISIS.

Blumenthal Floats Changes to NFL Antitrust Exemption (Video)

Sept. 17, 2014

A Senate Democrat is floating a proposal that could increase the government’s leverage over the activities of professional sports leagues like the NFL.

Tom Coburn Won't Be Going Away Quietly

Sept. 17, 2014

Sen. Tom Coburn is retiring at the end of this Congress, but the Oklahoma Republican has put the word out that he isn’t likely to let the Senate have its end-of-session legislative feeding frenzy.

Senator: NFL Response to Ray Rice "Out of an Episode of 'Madmen'"

Sept. 17, 2014

A Senate Democrat is floating a proposal that could increase the government's leverage over the activities of professional sports leagues like the NFL.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Wednesday that he's planning legislation to impose a sunset on the antitrust exemptions enjoyed by the National Football League and the other pro sports. The former Connecticut attorney general called the response of the NFL to the domestic violence incident involving now-former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice something "right out of the 1950s, out of an episode of 'Madmen.'"

Reid, Heller Push Proper Hygiene at Capitol Event

Sept. 17, 2014

Nevada’s senators appeared together Wednesday afternoon to promote hand-washing and proper hygiene.

Chuck Grassley's Birthday Blizzard

Sept. 17, 2014

Sen. Charles E. Grassley plans to put a birthday present to good use to grab himself a Dairy Queen Blizzard, but he hasn’t quite decided on the flavor yet.

At Final Stakeout Before Election, Senate Leaders Bullish on Chances (Video)

Sept. 16, 2014

At what’s expected to be their final appearances before the cameras in the Ohio clock corridor before the midterm elections in November, the two political strategists leading the Senate offered predictably upbeat assessments for their respective parties’ chances.

Mitch McConnell Rapid Response Ad Features Obama

Sept. 16, 2014

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign has taken rapid response to the airwaves.

Constitution Day: A Byrd Legacy (Video)

Sept. 16, 2014

A decade ago, during an earlier debate about military intervention in the Middle East, Sen. Robert C. Byrd led the establishment of Constitution Day, celebrated annually on Sept. 17.

Mark Warner Still Pushing Grand Bargains on the Stump

Sept. 16, 2014

FAIRFAX, Va. — How often do you hear a Democrat on the campaign stump tell a largely partisan audience that some of the attendees might be well-advised to vote for a Republican?

Reid Sets Lame-Duck Schedule

Sept. 16, 2014

The Senate has set the date for returning for the lame-duck session. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is advising senators they will return for the post-election lame-duck session the day following Veterans Day.

Debo Adegbile Nomination Withdrawn, Returns to Private Practice (Updated)

Sept. 15, 2014

Updated 12:14 p.m. | Having seen his Senate confirmation blocked by members of President Barack Obama’s own party, Debo P. Adegbile has withdrawn from consideration to be an assistant attorney general.

Alison Lundergan Grimes Shoots Skeet in New Ad (Video) (Updated)

Sept. 15, 2014

Updated 12:57 p.m. | The latest television spot from Alison Lundergan Grimes shows her skeet shooting on a farm as part of the Senate nominee’s attempt to create distance with an unpopular president in the midterms.

Menendez Unexpectedly Sings 'Happy Birthday' to Akaka

Sept. 12, 2014

Former Sen. Daniel K. Akaka got an unexpected birthday song on Thursday.

Senate Democrats Seek More Information on Obama's ISIS Plan (Updated)

Sept. 11, 2014

Updated 6:40 p.m. | The Senate’s top Pentagon appropriator told reporters Thursday he will be probing the Obama administration about legal authorities for the fight against Islamic State extremists, including in Syria.

Senators Push Against Burger King Tax Inversion

Sept. 11, 2014

A handful of members of the Senate Democratic caucus are calling on the leadership of Burger King to abandon the idea of using inversion for tax purposes as part of the merger with a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain.

Female Senators Write Letter to Goodell, Want NFL to Adopt 'Zero-Tolerance' Policy

Sept. 11, 2014

A group of 16 female senators, including Maryland Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski, have written a scathing letter to Roger Goodell about the National Football League’s handling of violence against women.

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