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.
Updated 4:36 p.m. | Some senators and aides may have barely awoken after a late-night budget vote-a-rama by the time not only had the chamber’s minority leader announced his retirement, but the gears were turning toward a succession plan.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has had no shortage of battles with his Democratic counterpart Harry Reid of Nevada over the years, but when the minority leader announced his retirement Friday, the Kentucky Republican offered kind words.
For a pair of Republican senators, the budget vote-a-rama seemed like a great time to demonstrate they aren’t luddites.
“People don’t get up every morning and read the Federal Register.”
As evening approached in the Senate’s budget vote-a-rama, lawmakers found some common ground on Iran. A 100-0 vote followed.
Updated 9:14 p.m. | Sen. Rand Paul doesn’t have a problem with increasing the defense budget, but he wants real offsets.
Senators aren’t making law as they complete work on the budget resolution, but for those facing the voters in 2016, the affair is riddled with political landmines, often set deliberately by the other party.
Updated 6:11 p.m. | Harry Reid’s bid to push a new highway through Nevada before he faces the voters next year has a powerful Republican ally — James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma.
GOP supporters of President Barack Obama’s pick to be the next attorney general are sticking by her, meaning Loretta Lynch is still on track for confirmation — if she can ever get a vote.
Sen. Mark S. Kirk said Tuesday he would introduce an amendment to the budget resolution recommending new sanctions on Iran if no nuclear deal is reached.
Updated 4:01 p.m. | LYNCHBURG, Va. — The Senate’s longest week kicked off some 180 miles southwest of the Capitol, with a presidential campaign announcement by one of the chamber’s conservative firebrands, Sen. Ted Cruz.
Senate and House Democrats face different challenges in responding to the budget blueprints on the floors of their respective chambers, but they’re operating from much the same playbook.
LYNCHBURG, Va. — The night before Sen. Ted Cruz is expected to deliver a speech launching his 2016 presidential bid, the Texas Republican’s political operation sent a text message to supporters, telling them to pay attention.
Sen. Ted Cruz’s political operation appears to be strongly encouraging attendance by the media at an event in Lynchburg, Va., Monday for what’s being billed as “an important speech.”
Updated 7:03 p.m. | The Senate Budget Committee’s agreed to boost funding in the budget plan for defense for the next fiscal year by $38 billion.
Just days before a deadline for an update on a potential announcement of a nuclear agreement with Iran, one Republican senator likely to run for president is renewing a sanctions push.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s office has conceded that a Democratic staffer was aware of the contested language in a bipartisan bill to combat sex trafficking that’s been stuck on the Senate floor.
Just as Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming was unveiling the Senate’s fiscal 2016 budget blueprint, a fellow Republican on the committee was announcing plans to try to increase the allowed defense spending.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid thanked Sen. Rand Paul Wednesday for his medical advice about his ongoing recovery from the New Year’s Day accident that caused serious eye damage.
The public expression of gratitude from Reid came on the Senate floor, while the Kentucky Republican and prospective presidential candidate was presiding over the chamber. The Nevada Democrat recalled for those watching the well-documented exercise accident that led to the significant facial and eye injuries that have forced Reid to don sunglasses often in the aftermath.
“During this period of time, the presiding officer, who by the way is a medical doctor, an ophthalmologist, has been so kind and thoughtful and considerate in visiting with me, giving me encouragement and some expert advice as to what he’s seen in the past,” Reid said.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid thanked Sen. Rand Paul Wednesday for his medical advice about the ongoing recovery from the New Year’s Day accident that caused serious eye damage.
Senate Republicans continued to rail on Democrats for holding up human trafficking legislation at their weekly news conference Tuesday, after the Senate earlier in the day failed to invoke cloture to limit debate on the measure.
“Here’s what I really think: Harry Reid and his Democratic colleagues don’t like to vote on issues,” Sen. Roger Wicker said. "This was true in the last term of Congress, and Harry Reid led his caucus off the cliff in so doing. What do you do if you’re in the minority and you still don’t want to take votes? You can’t fill up the amendment tree because you’re no longer in the majority.”
With the Senate deadlocked over an anti-human trafficking bill and a confirmation vote for attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch, Democrats again hammered Republicans at their weekly news conference Tuesday for their inability to govern.
“Hello our Republican friends: You’re in the majority — they still think they’re in the minority,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer said. “They’re putting their own poison pills in their own bill. It’s time to start governing.”
This night is not like all other nights.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s best-laid plans for a Senate renaissance have so far fallen flat — and the gridlock is starting to wear on his conference.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that he doesn’t plan on turning the Senate’s attention to the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as attorney general until resolving a stalemate over anti-human trafficking legislation.